Even though the annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ and Blues Festival has never missed a year — even from COVID — organizers are still excited for the event to be back.
And, organizers hope this year’s festival will be bigger and better than ever.
Entering its 13th year, the barbecue and blues fest is looking to get back to pre-COVID attendance numbers, bring in an influx of tourism into Zephyrhills and make even more money for the local nonprofits and scholarship funds.
“We are pretty excited,” said Vicki Wiggins, director of The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce that hosts the annual festival. “We’re hoping for about 10 (10,000) to 13,000 in attendance, which is pre-COVID numbers for us. But we’re also just hoping to make some money, which we turn around and donate to several of the nonprofits in the community.”
Pigz in Z’Hills has helped The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce to provide $48,000 in scholarships for local Zephyrhills area students since the event began.
Students aren’t the only ones benefiting.
Many local 501(c)3 youth groups and charities volunteer their time at the event. Its success has allowed the chamber to “Pay it Forward” with donations to scholarships, youth leadership programs and children’s charities every year.
“(The festival) really does have an impact on everyone in the (Zephyrhills) community,” Wiggins said. “Folks come over and spend the night, then they eat and shop downtown and in Zephyrhills, so we expect everything and everyone to be very busy that weekend. I know that all the hotels are full and that the restaurants will get full — if you bring 13,000 into the community, everyone gets super busy.
“But that makes for a huge economic impact on this area.”
The festival will once again include its Kidz Grillin’ Competition. Through community donations and sponsorships from Sonny’s BBQ, Bahr’s Propane Gas & AC, Home Depot and Chick-fil-A Zephyrhills, 30 barbecuing youths will compete while being mentored by local Pitmasters.
“We’re really looking forward to that (competition),” Wiggins said. “We’ll have the judges going over their food, but we love the kids cooking and grilling just like mini adults. Watching them in their aprons using grills is just so cute!”
Additionally, there will be a cornhole tourney on both days of the event, a Kidz Zone with various activities and the Zephyrhills Museum of Military History also will be open for visitors to see its unique collection of memorabilia.
There will be plenty of Blues music, too, featuring numerous bands, with music playing both days. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to enjoy music starting at 11 a.m. on Jan. 14.
“I think that the only thing that is different this year is that we’re really focused on the food and the bands,” Wiggins said. “We’ll continue the cornhole tournament and the Kidz Zone and can’t wait for the Kidz Grillin’ but we’re focused on food, bands and, of course, fun.
“We love that this event is in January because we like to use it to kick off the year right — and we all want to have a really good 2023!”
13th Annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ and Blues Festival
When: Jan. 13, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; and Jan. 14, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, 39421 South Ave., Zephyrhills
Cost: $5 entrance fee, free parking
Music acts: Friday – Chuck Riley’s All-Stars; Paul Correia and The Sandspurs. Saturday – Mark Shane, Snake Farm Band, R.J. Howson, Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones
Details: In addition to the barbecue, vendors and live blues music, the Kidz Zone will feature face painting, arts & crafts and games provided by the East Pasco Family YMCA. There also will be a Kidz Grillin’ Competition on Jan. 13, with up to 30 youth in a cookout competition, and a cornhole tourney on both days.
Info: Visit tinyurl.com/mebb43t7, or the event’s Facebook page.
Published January 04, 2023
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