June is bustin' out all over Downtown

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Andrew Carnegie will welcome thousands of people Downtown this weekend -- well, at least a 20-foot inflated likeness of the steel man and philanthropist anchored in the middle of the Allegheny River.

Unveiled Friday, the Carnegie bust, created by Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Stephen Antonson, is the temporary public art for this year's Three Rivers Arts Festival.

The festival runs through June 13 and is just one notable piece in a frenzy of spring events this weekend. There's something for arts lovers, baseball fans, fireworks freaks, Beethoven mavens and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities.

"If you want to feel the vibe of Pittsburgh, Downtown is the place to be," Mike Edwards, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, said about the "perfect storm" of events.

Funny that he mentioned a storm. Weather forecasters anticipate a weekend -- as well as the next 10 days -- of intermittent rain, something familiar to visitors to the arts festival. Rain seems to plague it every year.

But water is good for one event: Venture Outdoors is seeking to break the world record for the largest "flotilla" of canoes and kayakers with "Paddle at the Point." About 2,200 kayakers and canoers are set to launch from the North Shore and the Mon Wharf to convene at the Point beginning at 9 a.m. today.

The count for the record -- currently 1,105 kayaks and canoes -- begins at 12:30 p.m.

That event marks World Environment Day, which officially is today but kicked off here Thursday with a conference on the importance of water.

"We wanted to do a World Environment event that celebrates water," said Cara Rufenacht, marketing coordinator for Venture Outdoors. "What better way to celebrate water in Pittsburgh than the rivers?"

For sports fans, the Pittsburgh Pirates will face the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park today, followed by fireworks and a concert by Collective Soul. The game begins at 7:05 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 this weekend. The concert opened at Heinz Hall Friday night, and continues today at 2:30 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets start at $12.50 and can be purchased by calling 412-392-4900 or visiting www.pittsburghsymphony.org.

Pittsburgh Pride, the annual LGBT celebration event, also is under way. It started with a rally Friday night and concludes June 13 with the Pride Awareness March along Downtown streets.

And, of course, there is the Three Rivers Arts Festival, which also runs through June 13.

Likely to the disappointment of optimistic festival-goers, rain is predicted not only for this weekend but also for the next 10 days. Scattered showers are expected today, and Sunday is set to be a "wash-out," said John Darnley, a forecaster for the National Weather Service.

Such a weather pattern is to be expected, Mr. Darnley said, and it's not the art festival's fault. June historically has the most rainfall of any month.

More than 300 artists are expected at the festival, along with 50 musical acts.

Dante Anthony Fuoco: dfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1538.


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