The Three Rivers Arts Festival is in full swing at Point State Park, and businesses downtown are suffering the consequences.

It’s really too bad, because the festival has so much going for it. It’s one of a few events each year that actually draws people to downtown Pittsburgh, and it does so with good reason. Sadly, though, rather than helping to support small businesses in the immediate area the Arts Festival manages to single-handedly cripple retail sales in the business district.

Point in case: Hot D***a was told that if it wanted to set up a booth at the Arts Festival and vend food it would cost $10,000 for a 10 foot by 20 foot space with no electricity provided. This writer has a hard time believing that to be the same figure the food vendors currently operating at the festival were quoted, but then again, this writer has been wrong before.

Now, it should be noted that certain operations are designed for mobile vending and are indeed better suited for an outdoor festival than a restaurant that typically operates in a brick and mortar store front. However, as things currently stand, it seems one company controls all food sales at the Arts Festival, and because of that patrons are forced to pay exorbitant prices for very regular fare.

At the very least, I’d like to see the people behind the Arts Fest put together a list of places to eat downtown and encourage festival-goers to visit them. It would be heartening to see festival organizers support the people who work hard on a year-round basis to make downtown a better place.

Pretty much anything would be far superior to the way things currently stand. Right now downtown retailers are left to watch helplessly as what could be a great event for the entire community manages only to be a celebration of the arts that causes nearby small businesses to lose most of their sales for two weeks straight on an annual basis.