PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two weeks from today, the 37th annual EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta takes over Point State Park, bringing back old standards and adding some new twists.

Running July 2 to 4, the free event will draw half a million people to the biggest in-land regatta in the country.

Michael Dongilli, the Three Rivers Regatta spokesman, joined Bill Rehkopf on the KDKA Afternoon News to preview the festivities and give us a look at what new events are in store.

“We always try to refresh the event with things that people haven’t seen from year to year, and that’s kind of always the challenge from year to year given the fact that you are always working within the same budget parameters so to speak. But we have got something that people will definitely want to come down and see,” Dongilli said.

This year, the regatta will host Pogopalooza 2014, the U.S. leg of the Xpogo (extreme pogo) World Championships.

“The athletes that were here just thought the crowds were so spectacular that they decided to award us their North American leg of their World Championships. So you are going to see anywhere from 30 to 40 of the best extreme pogo athletes in the world competing here for the right to be called the POP Extreme Pogo Champion of the world,” Dongilli said.

Pogo professionals from as far as Russia will travel to Pittsburgh to compete.

“These guys, once you see them doing backflips, frontflips,” Nick McClintock of Xpogo said, “it is mind blowing.”

Sandsational will return to Pittsburgh, shipping in 160 tons of sand to create a patriotic sand sculpture.

“This year marks the 200-year anniversary when Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner, so what we’ll be sculpting this year, we’re going to do our depiction of the Battle of Fort McHenry,” Jill Harris of Sandsational said.

Musical performances at the regatta include Steve Augeri, former lead singer of Journey, on the main stage; a Beatles tribute band outside the Rivers Casino; and a performance by local band No Bad JuJu.

Food choices include a cross-country cookout and old fried food favorites.

On the water, die-hard fans will flock to the shores to watch the powerboat races.

“At the end of the day, the Regatta is all about fireworks and powerboats,” Dongilli added.

Finally, Zambelli’s Fourth of July “Flashes of Freedom Fireworks” will top it all off.

“What can I say… we’re fast, it’s fun, it’s free,” Sharon Winer of the Powerboat Super League said, “you gotta regatta.”

You can hear KDKA Radio’s whole interview with Michael Dongilli here:

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Kristine Sorensen