A scaled-down version of the annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest has been set for April 10.
The festival, being held for the 11th year, will take place at the Zephyrhills Community Venue, 5200 Airport Road, directly across from the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport. Event hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Unlike previous years, activities will be staggered throughout the day, to accommodate health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus pandemic.
A drive-thru BBQ meal pickup line will be in place from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., followed by a live blues concert from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., with select food vendors, such as gourmet French fries and kettle corn, as well as alcohol sales and more barbecue options.
Other happenings include an all-day cornhole toss tournament and free tours of the Zephyrhills Museum of Military History, to get look at refurbished wartime planes and other unique memorabilia.
Tickets are expected to be made available for purchase within the next couple weeks.
Various packages will be sold separately for the drive-thru meal and concert, plus cornhole tournament entry fees.
The popular food and music shindig has been twice postponed already — pushed back from scheduled dates in January and February.
This latest reboot is all but set in stone, however.
The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Committee recently came to a consensus with how to proceed with a setup, taking into account various COVID-19 protocols.
Working in the festival’s favor is an anticipated increased rollout of coronavirus vaccines by springtime, plus a venue of more than a dozen acres, Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce Director Melonie Monson told The Laker/Lutz News in a recent interview.
“We just kept building and formulating, and we really felt, ‘Let’s go forward with this. This event is really important to Zephyrhills, so we wanted to do it,” Monson said.
“It was a relief to finally come up with a plan of action, and to be able to find a way that we could put this on safely and still really just showcase our community. Now comes the hard work though of making sure we put it all together, but we’re excited about this format, and we’re kind of really thrilled to see where it goes.”
Noticeably absent from this year’s makeshift event is the prized BBQ cookoff contest that often attracts more than 60 competitive teams, plus a slew of judges and countless volunteers.
The BBQ showdown often draws professional grilling teams who travel to barbecue events all over the United States.
Monson said it was “a hard decision” among stakeholders to remove the hit cookoff competition from this year’s festival, but “we knew we could not do that safely in a COVID environment, so unfortunately, that had to go away this year.”
Other elements, such as a classic car show, a business expo and a kid’s fun zone won’t be part of the festivities this year either, according to Monson said.
With a date, time and location locked in for Pigz In Z’Hills, organizers and volunteers are working diligently to get the logistics all in place over the next two months.
This includes finalizing a full music lineup.
One of the confirmed headliners is Chuck Riley’s All Star Band, a longtime festival act.
As for other performers, Monson teased, “I think everybody’s going to be shocked when they see who all is going to be there.”
Here’s how the concert will be laid out for attendees:
- Spots are reserved by purchasing a 10-by-10 foot grid, good for up to six people.
- Price points will be based on vicinity to the music stage, with prices ranging from $40 to $100.
- Concert-goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.
For individuals or families just looking for a hearty BBQ meal, the drive-thru option will offer a choice of pulled chicken or brisket, plus an assortment of sides. Cost for that is $15 per person, though there is expected to be family meal option, too.
Meantime, the cornhole tournament will be broken into a recreation and competitive divisions, with a $500 prize to the winning team.
Entry fees are expected to be $20 and $40 per team, based on division.
Pigz in Z’Hills is not just a community entertainment tradition, but a major fundraiser for student scholarships, and about a dozen nonprofits and community organizations, such as Boy Scouts, East Pasco YMCA, and Relay for Life of Zephyrhills.
To help make up for anticipated funding shortages from this year’s pared down event, the local chamber this month launched a campaign called “Love Your Non-Profit” which showcases different organizations and solicits public donations for each.
“Being able to give scholarships to our youth here in Zephyrhills is a big deal, and we just need to do it. They don’t need to suffer. They’ve already been through enough,” the chamber director said.
Published February 10, 2021