Conceptualized by Jon Mark and Nick Zukoski, and pioneered by an underground community known as The South, the Wilkins Block Party has evolved from a bangin' party for CMU students during Carnival weekend to a full blown music and arts festival. Pittsburgh rock n roll group Memphis Hill has been hosting this annual event since 2013. The festival has seen rapid expansion each year. This year will be bigger and better than ever, with two stages, live visual art, food from local vendors, and new sponsors and partners. Our mission is simple: we provide a showcase for local musicians and we raise money for a great cause.
-Logan Randolph, event organizer
The Wilkins Block Party is an annual mini festival that feels more like a big party than anything else. Showcasing an extensive lineup of various, extremely talented musical artists every year, as well vendors of all kinds, food trucks galore, and even mini-workshops during the event, the Wilkins Block Party is a can’t-miss event. It only came onto my radar within the past two years, and this year will be the first year I plan to attend the entire event’s duration. Having forgotten about the event in the past, I’ve not been able to stay the whole time, and having to leave early has always been one of my biggest regrets. Taking place this year in Schenley Park at the Vietnam Veterans Pavilion, the Wilkins Block Party will throw down for its fifth consecutive year on April 21st.
Why is it called the Wilkins Block Party if it takes place in Schenley Park, you ask? Having only moved to that space within the last year, the event is actually a Wilkins Ave native. “The Wilkins Block Party was originally located on an alleyway parallel to Wilkins Avenue. The hosts of the first three block parties, Jon Mark and Nick Zukoski, lived on Wilkins Ave and convinced their neighbors sharing the ally to provide power for the stage,” Memphis Hill, one of the event’s organizers, shared. Memphis Hill the band still uses her namesake and includes other members who helped to organize the festival in 2013.
Run by all University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University alumni, with assistance from Redfishbowl Productions within the past year, the event plans to have 12+ musical acts including big names such as Beauty Slap, Starship Mantis, Benji., and a reunion show by Memphis Hill! The best part of the festival is every year it donates proceeds to a charity of choice. This year the Wilkins Block Party will be donating to the charity called 1HOOD Media, a “collective of socially conscious artists and activists who utilize art as a means of raising awareness about social justice matters affecting people around the world,” as described by the organization’s website. Bringing avenues for artists, youth, and activism together, the local organization focuses on being a driving force in changing the world. Jasiri X, one of the founders of 1HOOD, is another headlining act at the festival this year.
“This year, we really made an effort to diversify the artists so that people who enjoy various genres of music can come together in one place to have a good time. There are bands from so many different areas of Pittsburgh, but there isn’t just one place or one event that represents them all together. We’re excited to have such an amazing lineup this year and to support 1Hood, since one of their main goals is to make sure that youth from underrepresented communities get their voices heard,” exclaimed Zaneta Grant, another organizer of the Wilkins Block Party and incredible musician. The festival continues to grow and form new goals every year. “We want to continue to make this event grow and bring in a wider audience each year. The goal is to make this event a Pittsburgh tradition for years to come,” she said.
With 1.2K people RSVPd to the Facebook event, it is sure to be the event of the summer. But they need your help to make it the best party ever. The Wilkins Block Party has an Indiegogo fundraiser with a goal of $2,500. At the time of this writing, it’s at $396 with 20 days left. Your donations allow this this festival to happen! “We also have a list of cool perks on the campaign page for our donors. You could get one of our legendary wristbands, a shout-out on stage during the event, or even VIP access to our party bus,” Zaneta shared.
So donate, come out on April 21st, dance your faces off and make some new friends, because the Wilkins Block Party is sure to be a wild one this year! We hope to see you all there!