9 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from MessFest to Picklesburgh

Photo by Kelly Perkovich, courtesy of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Such a mixed bag of events and venues are on tap this week! You’ll find performances, hands-on creativity and a couple of the goofiest festivals around. Read on for the highlights of the best things to do with kids in Pittsburgh.

1. Party at Ballet Under the Stars

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre heads to the stage at Hartwood Acres on Aug. 22 for its annual Ballet Under the Stars celebration and performance. Pack a picnic and bring chairs and blankets to spread on the lawn. Before the 7:30 p.m. show, catch family activities beginning at 5 p.m. Expect dance lessons taught by PBT staff, crafts and food trucks. Ballet Under the Stars is free, unless you opt for the VIP Picnic in the Park under the big tent.

Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center.

2. Make a mess

Anyone whose kitchen doubled as a lab for junior scientists knows: Science can be messy. Happily, the educators at Carnegie Science Center keep the mess onsite for the upcoming MessFest on Aug. 22. How messy will it get? For starters, think elephant toothpaste, slime in a baggie, egg drops and a super science dunk tank. MessFest is included in your general admission tickets. Buy them in advance to prevent disappointment as this popular day is likely to sell out.

Photo by Sally Quinn.

3. Tour the Industrial Revolution at The Point

Visit Point State Park and join a tour that describes and points out the aspects of Pittsburgh during the Industrial Revolution. On the Point of Industry tour, park staff will discuss what the Point was like way back when, including buildings and factories that once operated there. The free program is offered at 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 19 and at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 20. Registration is required for the limited spaces.

Photo courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art.

4. Knot threads of love

The Story Saturdays series continues in the Bruce Galleries at the Carnegie Museum of Art with “Threads of Love” by Kabir Sehgal. Decorative Arts and Design curator Alyssa Velazquez will read the story about two sisters who celebrate the Hindu holiday of Raksha Bandhan by making thread bracelets for their brother. They carefully decorate the rakhi with sequins, beads, sparkles – and love. Following the reading, kids can work on an art-making activity that’s created for ages 12 and younger. The program runs from 11 a.m. to noon on Aug. 21 and is included with general admission.

Photo courtesy of City of Pittsburgh Office of Special Events.

5. Catch a free movie around town

The week’s free family entertainment continues in local parks. Check out the complete schedules for Dollar Bank Cinema in the Parks, Allegheny County Movies in the Park and Movies on the Mon at  SouthSide Works. And be sure to catch Row House Cinema’s Movie Night on the Lawn.

  • “Raya and the Last Dragon” (PG) screens on Aug. 19 at Brookline Memorial Park, Aug. 20 at Arsenal Park, Aug. 21 at Grandview Park and Aug. 25 at Hartwood Acres.
  • “Forest Gump” (PG-13) runs through history at Flagstaff Hill on Aug. 25.
  • “The Lion King” (G) revives the Simba cam on Aug. 22 at Schenley Plaza, Aug. 23 at Highland Park, Aug. 24 at West End Overlook and Aug. 26 at Brookline Memorial Park.
  • “Monster Hunter” (PG-13) and her elite team of soldiers battle it out on Aug. 21 at Riverview Park.
  • “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (PG-13) takes it old school at South Park on Aug. 21.
  • “Kingpin” (PG-13) screens at SouthSide Works on Aug. 25, with music opener Weird Paul at 7 p.m.
  • “42” (PG-13) revisits the life of baseball hero Jackie Robinson at Hazelwood Green Plaza, via Row House Cinema on Aug. 20. Registration is required.

    Photo courtesy of Picklesburgh.

6. Celebrate Picklesburgh

Twice voted the No. 1 Specialty Food Festival in the country, Picklesburgh returns this year in all its dilly glory. The giant pickle balloon will cast its shadow over crowds on the Andy Warhol Bridge from Aug. 20-22. Kids don’t necessarily need to have an appetite for pickles to enjoy the Li’l Gherkins KidsPlay area, where they’ll find activities like hands-on creative play and face painting. Their grownups will savor Pickle Cocktails and Pickle Beer and learn from DIY Pickling Demos. Music and food complete the festival atmosphere.

Photo courtesy of Heinz History Center.

7. Take them out to the (old-timey) ballgame

Baseball fans, young and old, will get a kick out of the annual Vintage “Base Ball” Day at Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village on Aug. 21. Catch a doubleheader as the Somerset Frosty Sons of Thunder take on the Addison Mountain Stars with games beginning at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Players will be decked out in old-timey uniforms and play the game according to the 1860 rulebook. At that time, gloves were not worn by players, called “ballists.” If a ball hit by the batter, called the “striker,” is caught after one bounce, the striker is called out. It’s an interesting history lesson for young sports fans, who receive free admission throughout August and September.

Image courtesy of the City of Pittsburgh.

8. Sign up for 5 years of free books

So far, the City of Pittsburgh’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library has distributed 75,000 free books to local kids. The way it works is that kids up to age 5 who live in the city are mailed a book a month. If they are registered at birth, they will have collected 60 books by their 5th birthday. Visit the program website for more details and get your little ones signed up for a head start on developing their smarts.

Photo courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

9. Last chance: Rhea the Great Detective

Kids can be part of the theatrical storytelling experience at a new production in The Children’s Museum. “Remake Your Story: Rhea the Great Detective and the Case of the Missing Musical Puppet” casts kids as detectives to follow clues to help solve the case. The show’s final performances are Aug. 25 at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Tickets are $5, sold separately from museum admission. “Remake Your Story” is recommended to elementary-age kids and fans of puppet mysteries.