This year's fest runs June 1-10. A few highlights, as offered at a press conference festival organizers held this morning at Point State Park:
The 2012 festival will feature "more visual artists than we ever had before," said festival director Marguerite Jarrett Marks. That reflects the more than 300 vendors in the artists market. Add in the live performers, and the total number of artists tops 500. For the first time, Marks said, visual artists will set up shop in Point State Park on all 10 days of the festival, not just on weekends. Artists will also be exhibiting not only in Gateway Center, but along Penn Avenue outside Gateway.
The festival includes the world premiere of art-rock band/performance troupe
Squonk Opera's latest. On June 8, after that night's mainstage performance by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Squonk will pull up on a flatbed truck, barnstormer style, and perform Go Roadshow on Stanwix Street. Expect wild sounds and wacky props. The show will repeat on June 9 and 10.
The nonprofit Gateway to the Arts, best known for bringing the arts to schoolkids throughout Western Pennsylvania, will do the same at the festival. The fest's Creativity Zone, on the fountain side of the park's overpass, will host more than 65 performers and visual artists, plus hands-on activities, on all four of the fest's weekend days.
After its successful return to the festival last summer, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchesta will again perform, on Sun., June 3. (Last year's PSO appearance drew 10,000, organizers say.)
Also set for an encore is JazzLive International — three stages of jazz, plus, like last year, a Downtown Jazz Crawl on the first night of the festival.
Bluegrass will make its first appearance at the festival, in a special June 9 showcase headlined by top names The Del McCoury Band and Peter Rowan.
The festival's efforts to be greener will also continue. Organizers already divert more than 80 percent of potential trash through an aggressive recyling and composting program. It will also be the second year that visitors are encouraged to bring their own water bottles (and avoid plastic-bottle waste) by availaling themselves of the festival's free water stations.
The festival is all free, of course, thanks to sponors like Dollar Bank and People's Natural Gas.
For more info, check the fest web site (though it looks complete information is unavailable just yet).