Pittsburgh residents are in for a unique treat as GoatFest PGH returns to South Side Park on Saturday, July 30. This annual event not only offers a day of family-friendly activities but also sheds light on the crucial role goats play in maintaining the city’s parks.
Organized by Friends of South Side Park, GoatFest PGH is an opportunity for the community to witness the hard work of the Allegheny GoatScape goats and their vigilant miniature donkey, Hobo. These animals serve as nature’s lawnmowers, efficiently clearing away tough weeds and brush that conventional landscaping equipment may struggle with.
Kitty Vagley, a member of Friends of South Side Park, emphasizes the significant impact of the goats’ work. “GoatFest underscores the serious work that the goats accomplish,” says Vagley. The areas cleared by the goats are later replanted 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,” she adds.
The event, now in its sixth year, aims to celebrate the hardworking goats and introduce people to the beauty of South Side Park. GoatFest PGH began in 2017 to highlight the efforts of Allegheny GoatScape, an all-natural, goat-powered landscaping business. The goats spent a month in South Side Park clearing invasive vines and knotweed, paving the way for a reforestation project. Since then, the goats and Hobo have returned every year, dedicating a total of 10 weeks to the park this year.
“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. This year’s event promises a variety of kid-friendly activities, including a giant inflatable slide, face painting, a petting zoo, storytime puppet shows, and an array of giant toys. Attendees can also enjoy live music, tree plantings and adoptions, over 35 vendors, 10 community partners, an artisan market, and delicious eats from local food trucks and the South Side Athletic Association concession stand.
Adding a new twist to the festivities this year is 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 is not only a celebration of environmental impact but also a testament to the positive changes that can be initiated by community involvement and the unique contributions of goats. The event runs from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Arlington Baseball Field-South Side Park (2000 Julia St., South Side). Admission is free, and donations are accepted. Attendees can enjoy free event parking at 21st St. and Josephine St. To learn more about GoatFest PGH, visit Friends of South Side Park’s website.