A new community venue in Zephyrhills needs a name.
The City of Zephyrhills and The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce are conducting a contest to name the venue, which is located at the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.
The venue, at 5200 Airport Road, is the site for the eighth annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest on Jan. 21.
Ideally the venue’s name will reflect the purpose, location and history of the site. The name also should not imply that the venue’s sole purpose is for the annual barbecue and blues event.
Submissions will be accepted through Jan. 6. Double entendres, that is, words with double meanings, will not be considered.
The venue’s name will be selected by a city of Zephyrhills committee, and will be announced during the Pigz in Z’Hills event.
Winners of the contest will receive a free parking pass to the BBQ fest, plus gifts and prizes.
Melonie Monson, the chamber’s executive director, said her office has already received “quite a few” submissions from locals.
“Everybody’s got a different idea,” she said. “It’s quite fun to see the different ones that are coming in.”
The $60,000 venue is owned and operated by the City of Zephyrhills. The city contributed $30,000 to its construction, while Florida Hospital Zephyrhills donated $30,000 to build a permanent stage.
The venue helps cut down on variable expenses, including the annual costs to rent a stage and generators, which officials say can total nearly $10,000.
A permanent site had been desired for some time.
Over a year ago, the chamber proposed the concept for a local festival grounds after the organization determined a larger site was needed to house Pigz in Z’Hills.
The tract of land the chamber had been using for the festival was about 2.5 acres.
The new 14-acre site includes a 20-by-40 stage, and 50 vendor spaces equipped with water and electricity. There also is additional space for freestanding vendors, business expos and children’s activities
The setting, moreover, will be able to accommodate up to 15,000 guests at a time, and will provide easy access and parking along South Avenue.
Officials say the permanent venue will ultimately help the Pigz in Z’Hills run more smoothly, and will create an enhanced layout for musicians, vendors and attendees.
That means an expanded Kids Zone, which may feature as many as 15 vendors, making the event “more family friendly.”
“It’s going to be huge compared to what we’ve had in the past,” Monson said.
The barbecue festival’s car show will be larger, too. Monson said there will be as many as 200 automobiles on display, to the delight of vehicle enthusiasts.
“The car show itself is going to be amazing,” Monson said. “We’ve only had about 50 in the car show in the past.”
Elsewhere, Monson anticipates about 50 barbecue cook teams; 60 business expo vendors; 20 aviation expo vendors; and 15 concession vendors.
The chamber director, meanwhile, is finalizing the “best possible layout” for the shindig, which she hopes will draw anywhere from 7,000 to 10, 000 attendees.
Much of the preparation has already been done, considering the staging area is already complete, and water and electricity access has been installed.
“Everything is 90 percent ready,” Monson said. “We’re starting to lay out all the vendors and the cook teams…”
She added: “After this year, it’s going to be a lot easier.”
Once Pigz in Z’Hills wraps up, the chamber will look to bring a balloon festival to the completed venue site.
“That’s high on our priority,” Monson said.
Besides the chamber, several organizations have expressed interest in using the event site, including the Rotary Club of Zephyrhills, Thomas Promise Foundation, Ride for Hospice, and Paulie Palooza.
Once in operation, nonprofit organizations wanting to use the venue will pay a fee to cover the cost of site maintenance and staffing, which will be performed by the city.
Events are expected to be limited to daytime festivals in order to prevent stage noise in the residential area behind the venue, although the stage will be designed to direct music toward the airport.
The venue also paves the way for the return of the Celtic Festival and Highland Games to Zephyrhills; the festival’s immense popularity forced it to vacate its venue at Zephyr Park in 2011.
For more information, contact the Zephyrhills chamber at (813) 782-1913.
Published December 28, 2016