Festival time: Let the sun shine on Pittsburgh’s annual celebration

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The 55th annual Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has begun Downtown. For 10 days, Point State Park will be the focus of much of the region’s cultural life as suburbanites join local residents in celebrating the creative and performing arts in one of the city’s most beautiful settings.

Even so, the temptation to recycle the usual jokes about the Three Rivers Arts Festival coinciding with monsoon season in Pittsburgh is almost irresistible. Alas, we now know from reporter Jon Schmitz’s Thursday Post-Gazette story that weather records prove tales of unending rain are just a myth.

Musician Jeff Tweedy kicked off the festival Friday evening with a free concert at the Dollar Bank Stage at Point State Park. Mr. Tweedy has previously performed at the festival with his band, Wilco. The fact that a national headliner of Mr. Tweedy’s stature chose to perform new material for his fans here says a lot about the respect the arts festival is generating outside Pittsburgh these days.

Good weather will encourage the thousands who will descend on Downtown in the mood to check out the festival’s other performance venues like the Stanwix Stage, Bricolage and the Arcade Comedy Theater in the Cultural District and the performance stage at Gateway Center. As usual, arts and crafts booths at Gateway Center and food vendors in Point State Park will draw the curious and hungry.

The arts festival used to be several weeks long, but economic considerations forced it to right-size a few years ago. This may have been the best thing that ever happened to it. Now, one can honestly look forward to it, rain or shine.

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