Zephyrhills chamber ‘pays it forward’

The seventh annual Pigz and Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest is over, but its community impact lingers on.

The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce earmarked more than $19,000 in scholarships and donations during its annual “Pay it Forward” dinner on Feb. 23, at the Silverado Golf and Country Club.

Evan McBride, part of a grilling group called Peachy Boys, from Mount Dora, turns some meat on the grill during the seventh annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest on Jan. 21. Revenue from the event allowed The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce to earmark more than $19,000 in donations and scholarships to civic clubs, youth groups and graduating seniors from Zephyrhills High School.
(File)

The post-barbecue banquet celebrates volunteers’ efforts during the Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest, which just wrapped its seventh year on Jan. 21. More than 100 sponsors, participants and volunteers attended the celebration.

Throughout the banquet, the chamber handed out $14,500 in donations to 11 civic clubs and youth groups, from money raised through the barbecue event.

Those donations ranged from $250 to $1,900.

The chamber also announced $5,000 in scholarships to graduating Zephyrhills High School students in May. Among those are a $1,000 performing arts scholarship, a $1,000 culinary arts scholarship and a $1,000 scholarship to a student “who may not have started well, but has made a turnaround in his or her scholastic life.”

Organizations receiving donations were the Pasco County Sheriff’s Posse, Zephyrhills Civil Air Patrol, Zephyrhills Noon Rotary, Zephyrhills Museum of Military History, Zephyrhills/Wesley Chapel Ministerial Association, Relay 4 Life committee, and the Resurrection House Mission.

Several groups from Zephyrhills High School also were rewarded, including Army JRTOC, Interact Club and Drama Club.

Each organization, which contributed the bulk of the festival’s 3,000 volunteer hours, was also presented with various certificates, plaques and other prizes.

The seventh annual Pigz in Z’Hills festival, meanwhile, was its most successful to date, chamber officials say.

Net revenue from the event totaled more than $50,000 — the highest mark yet, according to Melonie Monson, executive director of The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce.

Moreover, the economic impact for the city of Zephyrhills from this year’s barbecue fest was estimated at about $500,000, Monson said.

Pigz in Z’Hills, now a mainstay for east Pasco, drew somewhere between 11,000 and 14,000 attendees.

It also featured 54 teams, and more than 140 vendors.
In a release, Monson credits some of the event’s success — both financial and turnout — to the new festival venue, which was completed just prior to the barbecue shindig.

The $70,000-plus venue spans 14 acres, and includes amenities such as a 20-by-40 stage, and 50 spaces equipped with water and electric.
It was constructed via a public-private partnership, with contributions from Florida Hospital Zephyrhills and the City of Zephyrhills. Additionally, John Kinsman, of Martin Electric, and Paul Correia, of Sunstate Aluminum, contributed labor and expertise in electrical, plumbing and construction.

The venue is now expected to be used for various events and fundraisers organized by nonprofit organizations.

Published March 8, 2017

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