‘Don’t you cry for’ Doo Dah Days, Pittsburgh’s suspended celebration of Stephen Foster

Organizers say this year’s hiatus has nothing to do with the removal of his controversial statue.

Doo Dah Days participants in 2013

Doo Dah Days participants in 2013

Courtesy of TOM POWERS / LAWRENCEVILLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
colin-square-crop

Updated 9:20 a.m.

Doo Dah Days went silent this year.

Traditionally held in July, the annual Lawrenceville festival honoring famed 19th Century composer and native son Stephen Foster was noticeably absent this summer on the heels of his controversial statue being removed from its Oakland perch in April by the City of Pittsburgh.

But event organizers told The Incline that controversy had no role in the decision to not host the festival in 2018 and that they’re planning to return next year, bigger and better than ever.

“Skipping 2018 was discussed after 2017’s indoor Doo Dah Nights” and before Civil War monuments and similar public artworks were reexamined nationwide following deadly Charlottesville clashes in August 2017, said Tom Powers, an author, historian and researcher with the Lawrenceville Historical Society, the group behind the fete.

The first Stephen Foster Music and Heritage Festival — also known as Doo Dah Days — was held July 1, 2006 and has since occurred at various venues, including the Allegheny Cemetery where Foster is buried. The last two gatherings were actually “Doo Dah Nights” held indoors at Spirit in Lawrenceville.

Powers said Wednesday that there are two possible venues for 2019, adding, “Our board has not really sat down to talk about either proposal, so until I can speak with authority on the matter, I’m going to keep quiet for now.”

In a follow-up email, Powers said a blurb on the society’s website announcing Arsenal Park as a possible location for the 2019 event was updated Wednesday to remove reference to the park and better reflect the current state of negotiations. He reaffirmed the historical society’s commitment to taking the festival back outdoors.