“Thrival Innovation + Music Festival” celebrates its second year


Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

The area around Bakery Square was uncharacteristically crowded on the weekend of September 13, as people from all over Pittsburgh showed up for the second annual “Thrival Innovation + Music Festival.”

The festival, presented by PNC Bank and powered by the East Liberty based startup incubator Thrill Mill, is an annual effort to raise funds for the non-profit. According to their website Thrill Mill, founded by Bobby Zappala, “works with entrepreneurs from all industries, offering funding, a depth of hands-on programming, mentorship, investors, growth-focused partnerships and access to a first-class collaborative workspace.”

Branching off of lasts year’s efforts, the festival organizers worked to make this year’s festival bigger and better, offering two days of musical acts in their fenced in main stage area across the street from the Bakery Square complex. Performers ranged from local acts to world famous artists, including Portugal. The Man and Motion City Soundtrack.

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou
Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

Tickets for the event ranged from $45 for a one day pass, to $350 for a two day back stage pass, and it seemed that there was no shortage of hip twenty-somethings willing to pay for a weekend of top-notch musical acts.

The festival also included numerous vendors, food trucks, and tents with promotional materials for Thrill Mill and Thrival.

Throughout the festivities, festival workers in grey and white “Thrival” t-shirts were a common sight. Security was also a high priority, and an expansive security staff was stationed at the entrance to the music area.

Despite the security and high fences, even people without tickets could enjoy the music as the large sound system made it audible throughout the entire block surrounding the stage.

The festival also boasted free Wi-Fi across all of Bakery Square for the duration of the weekend.

In addition to the main stage area near Bakery Square, the weekend’s events also included several presentations, or “Innovation Events,” given by successful entrepreneurs and business people. According to the website, these events were for people to, “learn from leading experts from across sectors about the innovation trends of today and tomorrow, and meet the innovators and companies developing new businesses in Western Pennsylvania.”

These talks, which had to be registered for ahead of time on the Thrival Festival’s website, began on Monday, September 8, and continued through the end of the festival on Sunday, September 14. They were held at the Bakery Square location, as well as at the festival’s “North Campus” on Broad Street in East Liberty, which is where Thrill Mill’s headquarters are located.

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou
Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

The weekend also involved the “PNC Pitch,” sponsored by PNC Bank, in which budding startup companies competed for $25,000 of investment money to get their companies off the ground.

When asked about the location of the festival, one staff member noted, “There is a big entrepreneurship scene here, and East Liberty is really an up and coming area,” which, based on the enthusiasm that the neighborhood showed for the event, certainly seemed to be true.

With two days worth of beautiful weather and crowds of young people flocking to the music venue throughout the entire weekend, it appears the Thrival Festival had a successful second year.