The sixth annual Pigz in Z’ Hills BBQ and Blues Festival, drew a crowd of roughly 7,000.
That’s down about 3,000 from the previous year.
But, proceeds for the Jan. 16 event still met the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce’s projected revenue goals.
One possible explanation for the reduced attendance could have been its simultaneous timing with The Tampa RV SuperShow at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
The RV SuperShow, held from Jan. 13 to Jan. 17, drew more than 62,000 visitors, according to its website.
Droves of people flocked to the RV SuperShow the same day as Pigz in Z’ Hills because of the especially pleasant weather on Jan. 16.
“We had some early morning rains on Friday (Jan. 15) and Sunday (Jan.17) that kept some people away, but on Saturday (Jan.16), you could barely get into the building with the vendor booths from the time the gate opened until the end of the show,” Florida RV Trade Association Marketing Director Dave Kelly said in a report published by The Jacksonville-Times Union.
Pigz in Z’ Hills will face the same competition next year, as it is slated for Jan. 21, while the Tampa RV SuperShow is scheduled Jan. 18 to Jan. 22.
While Pigz in Z’ Hills’ turnout may have been down, Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce president Tim Linville was pleased with the shindig.
“Overall, the event went great,” Linville said. “We had lots of vendors — the same number of vendors that we had last year — and the music was good. The attendees seemed to be happy.”
The chamber reached its revenue goals, and plans to donate $15,000 back to the Zephyrhills community.
Various charities and local youth civic groups—such as the Pasco County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, the YMCA of East Pasco, the Zephyrhills High School Interact Club and the Zephyrhills Army JROTC— will be beneficiaries.
Donations will be presented at the chamber’s “Pay it Forward” dinner on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Alice Hall Community Center.
Linville was concerned that the chamber wouldn’t be able to do the same donations as it did last year, but it expects to be able to.
One reason the chamber met its revenue goals amid spotty attendance was because organizers have learned to better manage expenses from year to year, Linville said.
For example, if an event banner is bought one year, it can be used in subsequent years, Linville added.
In an effort to further reduce expenses and improve efficiency, the chamber hopes to lock down a permanent venue location on another piece of land at the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.
Ideally, the new location will feature water, electricity and permanent staging, allowing for additional events in Zephyrhills.
“We have a lot of variable expenses that you can eliminate, if you have a fixed venue,” Linville explained. “Instead of having to set up a stage for one day, it can be set up permanently.”
It also will be good for other organizations that want to put on events, because they won’t have to rent a stage or rent generators, he said.
“It’s a lot more efficient that way,” he said.
Linville said the new venue could be up to 20 acres, which is significantly larger than the three acres that are currently used for the Pigz in Z’ Hills festival.
“A new venue…will give us a new and improved layout, which will help with music and vendors, and also the attendees,” he said. “It can be better organized.”
A larger venue may also pave 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, with the hopes of finding a more accommodating location.
Published February 17, 2016