Savoring summer: Movies, Festivals, Daytrips

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Don't look now, but it's August.

That puts us squarely in the Back to School countdown, which has gotten shorter every year. (The city schools are back in session on Aug. 23.)

There are plenty of hot days ahead, though, and lots of summery fun to enjoy.

Here's a look at some of the options:

See a movie in the park

Most of the movies coined the year's best are released during the summer. But rather than spending the last of the summer indoors, take advantage of Pittsburgh's Dollar Bank Cinema in the Park, featuring summer night movies at multiple parks throughout the city, including Schenley Park, Grandview Park and Riverview Park.

For example, movies are screened at Schenley Park's Flagstaff Hill every Wednesday and Sunday at dusk. Go early on Wednesdays from 7-8 p.m. to hear a free concert before the movie. Schenley Park's free outdoor movies last until Aug. 28. If you go this week, "ParaNorman" will be shown Sunday, and on Wednesday, Bobby Short Band will perform before the screening of "Lincoln." For more information, visit

Here are the remaining movies:


Sunday: "ParaNorman" (PG)

Wednesday: "Lincoln" (PG-13)

Aug. 11: "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" (PG)

Aug. 14: "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2" (PG-13)

Aug. 18: "Jumanji" (PG)

Aug. 21: "Skyfall" (PG-13)

Aug. 25: "Jack the Giant Slayer" (PG-13)

Aug. 28: "The Avengers" (PG-13)


Tuesday: "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" (PG)

Aug. 13: "Jumanji" (PG)

Aug. 20: "Jack the Giant Slayer" (PG-13)

Aug. 27: "Chimpanzee" (G)


Tonight: "ParaNorman" (PG)

Aug. 8: "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" (PG)

Aug. 15: "Jumanji" (PG)

Aug. 22: "Jack the Giant Slayer" (PG-13)

Aug. 29: "Chimpanzee" (G)


Friday: "ParaNorman" (PG)

Aug. 9: "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" (PG)

Aug. 16: "Jumanji" (PG)

Aug. 23: "Jack the Giant Slayer" (PG-13)

Aug. 30: "Chimpanzee" (G)


Saturday: "ParaNorman" (PG)

Aug. 10: "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" (PG)

Aug. 17: "Jumanji" (PG)

Aug. 24: "Jack the Giant Slayer" (PG-13)

Aug. 31: "Chimpanzee" (G)


Saturday: "The Hunger Games" (PG-13)

Aug. 10: "Lincoln" (PG-13)

Aug. 17: "Casablanca" (PG)

Aug. 24: "Skyfall" (PG-13)

Aug. 31: "The Avengers" (PG-13)

Enjoy the country

While some of the summer pleasures are starting to wind down, the county fairs are just revving up. The beauty of the fair is having so many things happening in one place: animal shows, demolition derbies, truck pulls, concerts, fiddling contests, pie contests, the best greasy food.

Here's a sampling of what you haven't missed:

FAYETTE COUNTY FAIR (through Saturday): Pigs Gone Wild racing, Frisbee Dogs, The Barnyard Petting Zoo; Hillbilly Way with guest Vanessa Campagna, Saturday; Boys & Bulls Rodeo tonight.

GREENE COUNTY FAIR (Sunday through Aug. 10): Free monster truck rides (Tuesday through Aug. 10), barnyard petting zoo, horse shows, tractor pulls harness racing, music by Rustic Highway Band (Monday), The Ruff Creek Band (Wednesday) and The Chris Higbee Band (Aug. 8).

BUTLER FARM SHOW (Monday through Aug. 10): Wild World of Animals, magician/comedian Dr. Smart, and "moogician" Billy Bob Steinberg, nightly concerts.

WASHINGTON COUNTY AGRICULTURAL FAIR (Aug. 10-17): Fair queen contest (Aug. 10), a classic car show, doo-wop bands and Zambelli fireworks (Aug. 11), harness racing (Aug. 12-13), senior high bands and school bus demolition derby (Aug. 14), professional rodeo (Aug. 15) and a demolition derby (Aug. 17).

LAWRENCE COUNTY FAIR (Aug. 12-17): Elvis tribute concert (Aug. 12), a Country Music Festival featuring Bucky Covington (Aug. 16), drag racing, draft horse pulls, truck pulls, fireworks (Aug. 17).

WESTMORELAND FAIR (Aug. 16-24): Petting zoo, camel rides, circus, Farmers Olympics (Aug. 16), concerts, monster truck races (Aug. 17), demolition derby (Aug. 18); figure-8 derby (Aug. 21) and more.

INDIANA COUNTY FAIR (Aug. 25-31): Stock gasoline and stock diesel 4-by-4 pickup pool (Aug. 28); limited pro stock tractor and big semis pull (Aug. 30); stock semi trucks and tri-axel dump trucks pull (Aug. 31).

Visit a winery

Summertime is often associated with a cold beer and the beach. But, there is no better time to take advantage of the warm weather and last few weeks of summer than an afternoon at a winery. Western Pennsylvania is home to several wineries, but if you don't want to drive far outside Pittsburgh, check out Narcisi Winery in West Deer, only a 30-minute drive from the city.

Sit on the deck overlooking the Deer Creek Valley and taste the Narcisi family's wine. If you go on a Friday through Sunday, tours of the vineyard and wine production area are offered at 10:30 a.m. If drinking a glass of wine with a meal is more your style, don't worry, as there is a full-service restaurant on the premise. Information: 724-444-4744 or

Go to the beach

Maybe you've already been to Ocean City or the Delaware shore. Why not hit Pennsylvania's beaches at Presque Isle, which offers a refreshing taste of big water just a little more than two hours away. While you're there, you can take the kids to the old-fashioned Waldameer Park, which has a Ferris wheel overlooking Lake Erie and a waterpark.

Movie ideas, the sequel

Many families still miss the "dollar theater," as the Maxi-Saver 12 was affectionately called before it closed in January. All tickets were just a buck, a bargain in these days of 3-D IMAX showings that can set you back $10 or $13.50 for each ticket.

Go back to the future and load the kids into the car and head for a drive-in, such as the Dependable in Moon or Twin Hi-Way in Robinson. Even they can sell out for popular features, and, yes, they have concession stands with all sorts of goodies.

Some drive-ins are on the bubble, struggling to raise enough money to convert to digital projection or face going dark, so now is the time to patronize them. Besides, a movie such as "Turbo" about a snail competing in the Indy 500 was made for outdoor viewing.

Not a drive-in kind of dad, date or mom? Head outside your neighborhood and go to an unfamiliar theater that's part of a destination -- Cinemark in Robinson or Frazer, the SouthSide Works Cinema or AMC-Loews at the Waterfront -- and precede or chase your movie with coffee, a summer cocktail or a meal.

Consider taking a drive to the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pa. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays (no entry after 3:30 p.m.). Admission ranges from $7 to $5, with children 6 and under admitted for free.

The museum is at the intersection of Ninth and Philadelphia streets in the Indiana Free Library building. Philadelphia is the main street running through town, and you can find restaurants and shops a few blocks from the museum and wander over to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. See

Finally, go big or go small. Spring for the 3-D IMAX version of, say, "The Wolverine" or "Pacific Rim" or opt to see "The Way, Way Back," a little dramedy about a 14-year-old boy's pivotal summer vacation and starring Liam James, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Allison Janney.

Take a hike

The Greater Pittsburgh area is flush with hiking trails. One place to check out is Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, headquarters of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. It contains easy to moderate-difficulty trails, about five miles' worth, with most in the shade. You will never believe the roads of Fox Chapel are nearby. It's at 614 Dorseyville Road. Call 412-963-6100 for more information.

If you'd prefer to run through the park, there's the Regent Square Run Around the Square 5K, in Frick Park, on Aug. 24, and with live music along the course. Register at or 412-422-6562.

Love a parade

You can always count on Kennywood to be the first to throw out the term "fall." The grand old park presents its 64th Annual Fall Fantasy Parades (Wednesday through Aug. 25). More than 150 local high school and college marching bands take part along with themed floats each evening at 8.

Get to a festival

A bunch of the summer festivals are in the books now, but there are more to come in August and beyond. Be on the lookout for steel guitarists, jousting knights and men in kilts,

Ameriserv Flood City Music Festival: Headliners include Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, and Greensky Bluegrass. People's Natural Gas Park, Johnstown (Friday-Monday). 1-814-539-1889 or (See story, Page W-8.)

African Arts in the Park: A look at the impact of the African Diaspora on contemporary American music, art and dance. Point State Park (Aug. 24-25).

Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival: Medieval festival featuring combat jousting, games of skill, rides, period foods and costumed performers and artisans' marketplace. Off I-70, 6 miles west of New Stanton (Aug. 24-25, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, Sept. 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29). 724-872-1670 or

Art Festival on Walnut: Arts festival with national vendors (Aug. 24-25).

Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts Colonial Festival: The year is 1776 and more than 500 artisans donning period clothing are peddling their finest wares. Westmoreland Fairgrounds, Greensburg (Aug. 30-Sept. 2).

A Fair in the Park: Contemporary crafts festival presented by Craftsmen's Guild of Pittsburgh. Mellon Park (Sept. 6-8).

Highland Games Scottish Festival: Pipe bands, highland dancing, athletic competitions. Idlewild Park, Ligonier (Sept. 21). 724-238-4200.

Pedal through Pittsburgh

It gets a little hot in the summer to enjoy a long bike ride, and it's certainly something that can be done most of the year, but if you haven't biked that last addition of the Great Allegheny Passage, near Sandcastle, it's worth checking out.

You can start at the Waterfront and make the trip Downtown. Or vice versa. Or you can explore doing all or part of the 330-mile trek from Pittsburgh to D.C.

If you like group rides and parties, Pedal Pittsburgh, on Aug. 25, offers courses that range from 2 miles to 62. Price is $25 for BikePGH members, $35 for adult nonmembers, and $15 for children under 18.

Enjoy the free music

Have you been to a show at Hartwood Acres or South Park yet? You might as well make use of your tax dollars.

The free concerts roll on with Rickie Lee Jones, The Yellowjackets and Los Amigos Invisibles still to go.

HARTWOOD, Hampton, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday: BNY Mellon Jazz presents The Yellowjackets

Aug. 11: Galactic (funk)

Aug. 18: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Aug. 25: Rickie Lee Jones (folk-rock)

SOUTH PARK, 7:30 p.m.

Friday: The August Wilson Dance Ensemble

Aug. 9: Los Amigos Invisibles (Latin/disco/funk)

Aug. 16: James Hunter (R&B)

Aug. 23: Duquesne Tamburitzans

Aug. 30: Hometown Music Fest featuring JD Eicher, Caleb Lovely and Danielle Barbe (rock)

'STARS AT RIVERVIEW' JAZZ SERIES, Riverview Park, 7-8:30 p.m.

Saturday: Kevin Howard

Aug. 10: Elevations

Aug. 17: Marty Ashby Quartet

Aug. 24: Salsamba

Aug. 31: Kenny Blake

BACH, BEETHOVEN AND BRUNCH, Mellon Park, Fifth and Shady avenues, Shadyside, 10:30 a.m.-noon.

Sunday: Cincopation

Aug. 11: East Winds Symphonic Band

RESERVOIR OF JAZZ, Highland Park, Highland Avenue and Reservoir Drive, 5-7 p.m.

Sunday: Kenia

Aug. 11: Joe Negri

Aug. 18: Flexure

Aug. 25: Michele Bensen


Live bands before movies begin on Flagstaff Hill, Schenley Park, Wednesdays 7-8 p.m.

Wednesday: Bobby Short Band

Aug. 14: Bridgette Perdue

Aug. 21: The Grid

Aug. 28: Daniels & McClain


Aug. 29: Parmalee (6:30 p.m.)

Aug. 30: The Clarks (9 p.m.)

Aug. 31: Tres Lads (5 p.m.); Maggie Rose (8:30 p.m.)

Sept. 1: Drew Baldridge (7:30 p.m.); Justin Moore (9 p.m.).

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