click to enlarge A group of men, women, and children stand at a fence petting goats and sheep.

Photo: Courtesy of Friends of South Side Park

Petting zoo at Goat Fest

Pittsburgh parks have depended on the work of goats to clear away difficult weeds and brush otherwise not accessible, or too tough for conventional landscaping equipment. An annual event will remind residents about the lawnmowers of the animal kingdom with GoatFest PGH.

Taking place Sat., July 30, the latest GoatFest invites community members to experience family activities, games, and more in South Side Park. Guests will also have the chance to meet and learn about the efforts of the Allegheny GoatScape goats and their protective miniature donkey, Hobo.

“GoatFest underscores the serious work that the goats accomplish,” says Kitty Vagley, a member of Friends of South Side Park, in an email interview. She adds that areas cleared by the goats are later re-planted by volunteers with “native flora.”

“They have cleared invasive plant species from sufficient land to enable Friends of South Side Park to plant over 600 trees,” says Vagley.

The first GoatFest took place in 2017 to highlight the efforts of Allegheny GoatScape, an all-natural, goat-powered landscaping business that spent one month in South Side Park to “clear invasive vines and knotweed so that we could begin the reforestation project.” The goats and Hobo have returned every year since. This year, they will spend a total of 10 weeks in the park.

click to enlarge A brown donkey wearing a straw hat stands in a grassy, sunny clearing.

Photo: Hillary Steffes

Allegheny GoatScape protection donkey, Hobo

“Our goals are still the same, six years later — to celebrate the hard-working goats and to introduce lots of people to South Side Park,” says Vagley. She adds that this year’s event will feature numerous kid-friendly activities, including a giant inflatable slide, a face painter, and a petting zoo, as well as storytime puppet shows and “lots of giant toys.” There will also be live music, tree plantings and adoptions, over 35 vendors, and 10 community partners, plus an artisan market and eats by local food trucks and the South Side Athletic Association concession stand.

Vagley says they also added a new activity this year, the goat-themed puzzle adventure game, EScape Goat.

“We want people to come and have a good time,” says Vagley. “We also want people to see how some goats and some great volunteers can start to transform a park.”

GoatFest PGH. 12-4 p.m. Sat., July 30. Arlington Baseball Field-South Side Park. 2000 Julia St., South Side. Free. Donations accepted. Free event parking at 21st St. and Josephine St.