Pigz in Z’Hills festival set for April 10

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.

Melonie Monson, executive director of Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce Director (File)

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.

A socially distanced live music concert will be among the happenings at the 11th annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest. Chuck Riley’s All-Star Band will be one of the lead acts, among other performers.

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.”

While this year’s Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest will be pared down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there’ll be a variety of barbecue options to go around for all attendees.

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.
Between all the grub and tunes, a daylong cornhole toss tournament figures to be a popular spot at this year’s Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest.

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.

For more information, call 813-782-1913, or email .

Published February 10, 2021

Pigz in Z’Hills festival postponed until April

Like so many other major events throughout the Tampa Bay area, the 11th annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest will be forced to make many adjustments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The largest annual event in Zephyrhills — which was slated for Feb. 27 — has been tentatively postponed until April, in the name of health and safety. Exact dates, times and a location are still to be determined, as are ticket and parking prices.

The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors agreed on the postponement in mid-December, after consulting with medical professionals and event partners, according to a chamber news release.

This year’s Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest may feature a socially distanced car drive-in concert format with local or Florida-based bands only. But, there won’t be the other usual frills like a prized BBQ team competition, car show, cornhole tournament, business expo, or kids fun zone. (File)

The BBQ festival’s reboot will take on a different flavor in 2021 compared to past years — possibly focusing on just a drive-in concert and drive-thru BBQ meal pickup.

More concrete details will be hammered out following another board meeting in late January, where final event recommendations will be agreed upon, Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce Director Melonie Monson told The Laker/Lutz News in a recent interview.

Multiple proposals already have been discussed with Pigz in Z’Hills committee members and chamber leaders on the best approach.

One general concept that has been floated includes having attendees simply “drive through a line and pick up their BBQ, and then park and stay in their cars and listen to a concert,” Monson said.

But even this plan and its logistics have been questioned, as Monson said organizers “really struggled with some of the concept and the concern, so I think we’re back to square one of how we can do this in a COVID world and ensure safety.”

“The board really wants to be extra cautious, for sure,” she added.

Much concern from the board lies with the hundreds of volunteers who help make the event possible, Monson said. A point already has been made to excuse any youth and elderly helpers for this year’s festival, she said.

Said Monson: “That’s where a lot of it plays out — is can we guarantee safety to the people volunteering all day? You know, that’s the bottom line when it comes to things.”

Should a makeshift food and music show go on in some way or another, only local or Florida-based bands would be showcased for the event, Monson said.

Meanwhile, a final menu is being completed.

To do this, the chamber is collaborating with three of its regular cooking teams to serve up various offerings for attendees, perhaps an entrée choice of ribs, barbecued chicken or pork with various sides and drinks.

Aside from heaps of food and live music, Pigz in Z’Hills typically features a prized BBQ cookoff contest, car show, cornhole tournament, business expo, kids fun zone and tours of the Zephyrhills Military History Museum.

Those are off the table for the festival this year — though some type of combined car show and cornhole tournament may be organized through the chamber for sometime this summer, Monson said.

Event organizers have reached out to would-be BBQ competitors with information on refunds and to sponsors about being a part of the hybrid event.

A community staple and major fundraiser
Pigz in Z’Hills has not only been cemented as a community entertainment staple over the years, but also is 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 name a few.

The chamber director acknowledged funds raised from this year’s BBQ event “is going to be very minimal,” but expressed confidence there’ll be enough in the coffers to continue the Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fund and Citizen of the Month programs.

To help make up for other anticipated funding shortages, Monson said the chamber in February is launching a campaign called “Love Your Non-Profit” that will showcase different organizations and solicit public donations for each.

Said Monson: “We’re going to spotlight the nonprofits that usually get the money (made from Pigz in Z’Hills) and really hope that the public will say, ‘Oh yeah, we recognize they’re not going to be able to get what they’re used to; we can help, too.’”

The BBQ shindig has grown substantially since its debut in 2011 — when it drew about 2,500 patrons.

Well over 10,000 people have attended in recent years at its usual staged location of 5200 Airport Road, across from the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport — including a record-high of about 13,500 attending in 2019.

The momentum carried into the event’s 10th anniversary celebration last January, drawing roughly 11,000 people.

The chamber had hoped to build on the string of successes and find a way to bring some normalcy to the area by holding the festival and all its familiar fixins’, but the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and vaccine delays forced organizers to pivot completely, Monson said.

Expected to be a much smaller turnout this year, the chamber director noted any hybrid festival would be considered “a huge success” if anywhere from 300 to 500 tickets get purchased.

“It’s real disappointing, but we recognize we’re not the only ones going through this, and we will rebound,” Monson said.

There’s confidence brewing that the BBQ extravaganza will get back on track by 2022, however.

That’s because next year’s Pigz in Z’Hills has been selected to host the Florida BBQ Association State Championship.

Monson said the showcase could draw upward of 65 top-notch BBQ teams from around the state, with a purse of at least $10,000 for the winner. The event is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 26, 2022.

“It will bring in competitors that we’ve never had before from throughout the state, which is exciting,” said Monson.

The chamber leader also noted that the event will be a solid marketing tool for Zephyrhills, at large.

She expects that television exposure and coverage of the event will offer a great opportunity “to showcase our little city.”

For more information, call 813-782-1913, or email .

Published January 13, 2021

A sizzlin’, smokin’ and searin’ good time

Thousands of people headed out to the 10th annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival for a common reason – to listen to live Blues music, while enjoying barbeque chicken, pork and brisket.

With a loaded baked potato from Sadie’s Roasted Corn LTD in hand, Michael Harper, of Hudson, feeds a bite to Leslie, his wife of eight years. The duo also tried out the corn on the cob, which they both said was delicious. (Christine Holtzman)

The event, presented by The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce, took place on Jan. 17 and Jan. 18 at the Zephyrhills Community Venue, 5200 Airport Road.

The People’s Choice dessert competition was held on Jan. 17. A steak competition and kid’s grilling competition, both sanctioned by the Steak Cookoff Association, also were held that evening. A cornhole tournament with a $500 purse and the music of live, local bands rounded out the evening.

The Smoke Shack’s John Caldwell uses a large knife to chop up some brisket that has been slow cooking for 18 hours. Caldwell, who travels all over the country competing in barbeque events, spends his time between his homes in Lakeland, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; and, Columbus, Ohio.

The main event on Jan. 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., featured the delicious food offerings of 60 professional and backyard barbeque teams. They were competing for a share of the $10,000 in cash prizes and bragging rights. The competition is approved by the Florida BBQ Association.

While tucking into their delicious plates of barbeque, attendees were entertained by some top Blues musical acts, including The Sauce Boss, Chris Walker Band, Sean Chambers, and Chuck Riley’s All Stars.

Besides sampling the barbeque, event-goers could visit the Kids Zone, complete with games, bounce houses and a rock-climbing tower. Those attending also could check out a Business Expo, which featured numerous local businesses and vendors with products available for sale. Other options included a Swine & Shine Car Show, access to the Zephyrhills Military History Museum, and another cornhole tournament with a $1,000 purse.

Published January 22, 2020

Twelve-year-old Erin Potter, left, presses lemons, while 7-year-old Aspen Bahr takes orders for cups of freshly squeezed lemonade. The girls are both from Zephyrhills and are helping out at Aspen’s Uncle Kevin’s business, Bahr’s Smokin Butts. Potter estimates that she has squeezed over 100 lemons in a three-hour span.
Deb Cadieux, of Zephyrhills, left, and her husband, Doug, clap at the end of Sean Chambers’ performance of his original song, ‘Red Hot Mama.’ The duo, both dressed in tie-dye T-shirts, were dancing in the special area in front of the stage that was reserved for dancing.
Billboard charting artist and Florida native Sean Chambers, left, jams out on stage with his band.
Five-year-old Xander Tombillo, of Wesley Chapel, zooms down a giant, inflatable slide inside the Kids Zone area of the festival. The youngster was at the event with his parents Kate and Matt, who estimated Xander had gone down the slide at least 20 times already.
Proudly wearing the iconic Pigz in Z’Hills hat, James Messer, of Dade City, enjoys a cold brew while smiling at his wife, Erica, who was shopping at the vendor booths inside of the Business Expo area.

Pigz in Z’Hills to celebrate its 10th year

The largest event in Zephyrhills is gearing up for its 10th anniversary — with a few more fixins’.

The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce’s annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest is set for Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Zephyrhills Community Venue, 5200 Airport Road, Zephyrhills.

Admission is free, but parking is $10.

The annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival returns on Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There also will be a special Friday night event, to celebrate the festival’s 10th anniversary. (File)

To kick off its 10th year, festivities have been added for a special Friday celebration on Jan. 17 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. It will include a steak cookoff and kid’s grilling competition sanctioned by the Steak Cookoff Association, as well as a second-day cornhole tournament, “People’s Choice” dessert contest, and a local band showcase featuring Hired Gun, The Groovediggers, Time Travelers, and Jase Randall Band.

“We just wanted Friday night to be a local celebration where people could come relax and have a good time,” said Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce Executor Director Melonie Monson, who’s organizing Pigz in Z’Hills.

As usual, Saturday’s main event is the Florida BBQ Association-approved barbecue competition, with 60 competition teams, both professional and backyard, vying for top honors and trophies in four standard categories: chicken, pork, brisket and ribs. Professional teams have the added incentive of potentially winning $10,000 in prize money.

While attendees munch on barbecue, live blues music will be going all day long, with a lineup headlined by Sean Chambers, along with the Chris Walker Band, Chuck Riley’s All-Star Band, and Sauce Boss.

There will be plenty of other entertainment on hand, too.

A business expo also will be featured, and there’s the return of a two-team, double-elimination cornhole tournament with a chance to win a cash prize and a trophy.

Car enthusiasts are welcome to participate in the car show, or to simply check out the motorcycles and vehicles on display.

Visitors also can get a free tour of the Zephyrhills Military History Museum, and take a look at refurbished wartime planes and other unique memorabilia.

The barbecue festival is the largest event in Zephyrhills. Last year’s drew a record crowd of 13,500.

Youths can get in on the fun in the Kidz Zone, which will have face painting, arts and crafts, and games.

Last year’s festival marked its largest showing ever — with over 13,500 attendees. The figure represents how far the event has come in a decade, when it drew about 2,500 patrons in its first year back in 2011.

Monson feels the event’s success lies in the community involvement and the 200-plus volunteers who come together to help out, to ensure everyone has a good time.

The event also serves as a large fundraiser for scholarships, youth leadership programs and children’s charities.

The chamber director put it like this: “When people come, they have a positive experience, so they’re telling others. We have a real strong motto that we want everyone to be happy. We want everybody to feel like, ‘This is exactly what our town represents.’”

Over the years, Pigz in Z’Hills has distinguished itself to be a qualifier for three prestigious championship contests:  Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational in Lynchburg, Tennessee, long considered the Super Bowl of barbecue contests; American Royal World Series of BBQ in Kansas City, the world’s largest and oldest barbecue contest; and, the Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown Invitational in Orlando.

Many of the competitive teams coming to Zephyrhills are professionals who travel to barbecue events all over the United States.

Zephyrhills resident and business owner Randy Light, of Puroclean Cooking Team, outlined what all it takes to ensure a strong showing in the barbecue contest, during a recent Zephyrhills Chamber breakfast meeting.

He explained cooking teams begin prepping at least a week before the contest, deciding which types and cuts of meats to purchase, and testing out different sauces and seasonings.

Light noted the chicken category takes the longest to prep, compared to other meats, as there’s a lengthy process of trimming, weighing, brining, injecting and so on.

“Chicken’s one of the hardest things to do,” he said. “You don’t just take it out and grill it.”

Light added a lot of thought also goes into which types of barbecue sauce to use for each judge that will appeal to the competition’s 75 judges. Because some judges might prefer hot sauce, while other prefer sweet, he said his team tries to find a “happy medium sauce.”

Light acknowledged the entire process takes much time and effort, and he enjoys every bit of the experience.

“We have a lot of fun cooking for the community. It’s awesome,” Light said.

For more information, visit ZephyrhillsChamber.org, call (813) 782-1913, or visit the Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Facebook Page.

Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival
 Zephyrhills Community Venue, 5200 Airport Road, Zephyrhills
When: Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free admission; $10 for parking
Details: Guests can enjoy smoked barbecued foods right off the grill, listen to blues bands, play cornhole, and check out car and aviation shows.
Info: Call (813) 782-1913, or visit ZephyrhillsChamber.org.

Published January 15, 2020

Festival offers heaping helpings of barbecue and blues

People of all ages headed to the ninth annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival to sample some ribs, barbecue chicken or pulled pork — and get their fill of the blues.

Smoke emanates from the grill, as Edwin Alvarez, of Kissimmee, prepares chicken on a stick, which is called Pincho. Alvarez and his boss, Luis Merced, of Largo, were preparing food for patrons at the barbecue festival. (Fred Bellet)

The scent of barbecue filled the air, Benny the Pig made the rounds and people sported pig hats — as they strolled around the Zephyrhills Community Venue, at 5200 Airport Road.

Some barbecue chefs traveled from far-off places to take part in a competition involving about 60 teams who vied for bragging rights and prizes, and a chance to advance to the World Food Championship.

Besides being able to enjoy barbecue, event-goers could check out items being offered by various vendors and could listen to blues musicians.

There was a car show and an aviation show, too.

Proceeds benefit community organizations, such as the YMCA, and for scholarships for Zephyrhills High School students.

First-timers at the Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival, left, Coral Etshman, of Tampa, gives friend Reggie Bowers, of Tampa, a taste of pulled pork.
The Ellie Lee Band was among the lineup of bands performing at the ninth annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival. Other bands playing were the Dave Shepard Band, Chuck Riley’s All Stars, The Bird Tribe and headliner Damon Fowler.
Jerry Newell, of Zephyrhills, had his own pig hat, which he wore to the festival.


Zephyrhills gets ready for Pigz in Z’Hills

The ninth annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival is set for Jan. 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Zephyrhills Community Venue, 5200 Airport Road, in Zephyrhills.

About 60 teams are expected to vie for bragging rights and prizes during the barbecue competition at the event.

Ed Wright, left, and Chuck Riley, of the Ed Wright Duo, were the opening act at last year’s Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival. Riley is set to liven the stage this year with his All-Stars band. (File)

The cooking showdown will determine who advances to the World Food Championship, with competitors testing their skills in preparing smoked chicken, pork, brisket and ribs.

In addition to enjoying barbecue foods, those attending can check out the offerings of various goods and craft vendors, and listen to blues performances throughout the day.

The musical lineup includes the Bird Tribe, the Ellie Lee Band, Chuck Riley’s All-Stars and the Dave Shepard Band.

A business expo also will be featured, and there’s a cornhole tournament with a chance to win a cash prize and a trophy.

Car enthusiasts are welcome to participate in the car show, or to simply check out the motorcycles and vehicles on display.

Visitors also can take a look at refurbished planes, and there’s a free tour of the Military History Museum.

Youths can have some fun, too, in the Kidz Zone, which will offer bounce houses and a climbing wall, and the chance to build birdhouses, or have their faces painted.

Proceeds benefit community organizations, such as the YMCA, and for scholarships for Zephyrhills High School students.

Admission is free and parking is $10.

No coolers or pets are allowed, but guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.

For more information or to register for the barbecue competition, call (813) 782-1913, or visit ZephyrhillsChamber.org.

Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival
Where: Zephyrhills Community Venue, 5200 Airport Road, Zephyrhills
When: Jan. 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free admission; $10 for parking
Details: Guests can enjoy smoked barbecued foods right off the grill, listen to blues bands, and check out a car show and aviation show.
Info: Call (813) 782-1913, or visit ZephyrhillsChamber.org.

Published January 16, 2019

New space sought for Zephyrhills Senior Center

Pasco County Senior Services is seeking a new location for the Zephyrhills Senior Center, after its abrupt closure at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church.

Last month, the church informed the county it no longer could support the program, citing financial reasons.

The senior center closed on Dec. 31. It been operated at the church since 2010.

The Zephyrhills Senior Center has been located at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church since 2010, but closed on Dec. 31, after the church said it no longer could support the program, citing financial concerns. (File)

Under a public-private agreement, the church lent out its multipurpose space at no cost, while the county provided meals and other services to seniors in the community.

Dozens of residents took advantage of the Zephyrhills programs each day.

Those seniors have since been redirected to the Dade City Senior Center, until the county finds a new facility to support a program in Zephyrhills.

Officials hope to pinpoint a permanent location within the next few weeks, likely under another public-private scenario.

It’s not the first time Zephyrhills seniors have been forced to trek to Dade City to receive meals and services.

The senior space was shut down in September 2016 for kitchen renovations, after black mold was discovered.

The facility reopened nine months later, after a $33,000 makeover fully funded by the church.

Besides Dade City and Zephyrhills, the county’s senior services division operates facilities in Port Richey, New Port Richey, Land O’ Lakes and Shady Hills.

At each facility, hot, balanced meals are served five days a week, free to seniors age 60 and older.

The locales also provide seniors with entertainment and socialization.

Card games, bingo and puzzles were some of the regularly scheduled events at the Zephyrhills Senior Center.

Movies, live music and guest speakers were also presented there each month.

Those broad offerings will remain at the new location, according to Diane Cunningham, senior services manager for Pasco County.

“When we move to the new location, we will continue to offer a variety of activities, exercise, events, trips, nutritional education and nutrition counseling,” Cunningham wrote in an email to The Laker/Lutz News.

“We are working with other organizations to increase activities and provide more informational programs,” she added.

The Zephyrhills Senior Center has had several locations during its history.

The senior program has also been hosted by First Church of the Nazarene in Zephyrhills and Trinity Church of Wesley Chapel.

From 1993 to 2008, the Zephyrhills Senior Center was located on Airport Road and owned by CARES (Community Aging and Retirement Services) Inc.

Published January 3, 2018

Zephyrhills considers some fee increases

The City of Zephyrhills is updating its comprehensive list of fee schedules — and many come tagged with price increases.

The proposed fee resolutions and amendments incorporate public record requests, venue rental policies, cemetery lots, and site plan reviews, among others.

The fees were discussed during an hour-long city council workshop meeting on Oct.  23.

Rental charges for Alice Hall will remain at $40 per hour, but minimum hourly requirements have been added, under Resolution No. 739-17. (Courtesy of City of Zephyrhills)

Perhaps the largest proposed change is to the city’s site plan review fees for new business development projects, such as restaurants, retailers and so on.

Under Resolution No. 741-17, the Site Plan Review Fee will double to $1,000, up from $500 per 1,000 gross square feet.

Todd Vande Berg, the city’s planning director, said the fees haven’t been adjusted in several years and would still be in line with surrounding communities, such as Port Richey, New Port Richey and Plant City.

He also noted the proposed fees are still considerably less than the $5,000 charged by the county for similar projects.

City Manager Steve Spina added site plans reviews and development projects require the services and resources of nearly a dozen city staffers from multiple departments.

“It’s a lot of staff time to review and coordinate all the different aspects that go into these kinds of reviews,” Spina said during the workshop.

“In the long run, you have to justify your costs. I think this helps us do that. It helps us get reimbursed when we hire consultants to do things, and it helps with some of the staff time that goes into it—and it’s a lot of time for them,” he said.

Rental policies for both the Alice Hall Community Center and the Airport Venue were also presented at the workshop.

The charge for renting out Alice Hall will remain at $40 per hour, but minimum hourly requirements have been added, under Resolution No. 739-17.

A rental minimum of two hours will be required from Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., while a minimum of four hours will be required for rentals Friday, Saturday and Sunday, between 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, the city plans to establish rental prices for its community airport venue, which is home to the annual Pigz in Z’ Hills BBQ & Blues Fest.

Since its launch in January, Spina said the city has struggled to determine rate charges for event hosts.

The 14-acre community venue site, at 5040 Airport Road, includes a 20-by-40 stage and 50 vendor spaces equipped with water and electricity, along with additional space for freestanding vendors, business expos and children’s activities.

The venue is situated north of the Zephyrhills’ City Yard, stretching to Airport Road and backing up the southern boundary of the Lincoln Heights subdivision.

Rates will be based on a sliding scale, dependent on attendee figures and if alcohol is served, per Resolution No. 745-17.

For example, renting the venue for less than 500 people could cost between $300 and $360. An event with more than 10,000 attendees, such as Pigz in Z’ Hills, could cost somewhere between $2,600 and $3,100.

Those figures also incorporate cleanup, city personnel and employee labor. There’s an additional surcharge for booths and trailers.

Spina said the finalized fees first have to be “cleaned up” and will be presented to the council at a later date.

Besides venues, shade hangar rentals at the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport will increase to $125 per month, up from $95. All other prices at the airport will remain the same, per Resolution No. 743-17.

Those aren’t the only price changes coming to the city.

Cemetery and cremation lots at the city’s Oakside Cemetery are increasing for residents and non-residents, the first price change since 2005.

Cemetery lots for residents and city employees will be $800, up from $750, while cremation lots will be $350, up from $300, under Resolution No. 740-17.

Cemetery lots for non-residents jumps to $1,200, up from $810, while cremation lots will be $525, up from $350.

Spina defended the price increase for nonresidents during the workshop, noting many people will “shop” cemeteries from across the region, which may eventually lead to lot availability issues for the city in several years from now.

“We have a lot of people coming from St. Petersburg or elsewhere to use the cemetery because it’s less expensive. It could be a space issue down the road,” he said.

A fee policy for public records requests also was introduced.

Requests estimated to require more than an hour of a city employee’s time; a minimum deposit of $25 will be required. Additional charges will be added to cover the cost of posting and packaging.

Spina noted the city has received an influx of requests daily and weekly, often related to council actions, police incident reports, and personnel records.

“People have a right to the public record, so you have to try to determine to balance those customer needs,” he said.

Other workshop items, including transportation impact fees and fire user fees, were tabled for a later date.

The basic fee schedule, per Resolution No. 738-17, includes the following figures:


Single-sided copies, up to 8 ½” x 14” – $0.15

Double-sided copies, up to 8 ½” x 14” – $0. 20

Ledger size, 11” x 17” – $0.20

Certified copy of a public record – $1

DVD/CD of electronic or audio public records – $5

DVD/CD imaged documents (building plans and permits) – $5

Duplicate videotape – $1


8 ½” x 11” — $2

11” x 13” — $2

18” x 24” — $5

22” x 34” — $5

24” x 26” — $5

34” x 44” — $10

36” x 48” — $10

Published November 8, 2017

Paulie Palooza rocks out at new venue

When people gather this year to check out the music at the fifth annual Paulie Palooza, they’ll be arriving at a new event venue.

This year, the bands will be performing at the Zephyrhills Community Event Venue, at 5200 Airport Road.

Paulie Palooza will be playing at a new venue this year. The event is scheduled for March 18 at the Zephyrhills Community Event Venue. It will feature live bands, vendors, a silent auction and more. Proceeds benefit Gulfside Hospice.
(Courtesy of Gulfside Hospice)

The bands will start playing March 18 at 10 a.m., and performances will continue throughout the day, until 5 p.m.

The musical lineup includes:

  • Cold Iron
  • The Dade City Connection
  • David Teague
  • Backwaters Own
  • The Jase Randall Band
  • Ralph’s RV
  • White RV

But, there’s more than music at Paulie Palooza. The event also features local vendors, silent auctions, a car show, food and drawings, said Kirsty Churchill, of Gulfside Hospice.

The cost for admission is $5, and those attending are encouraged to bring a lawn chair.

Event proceeds support hospice patient care in Pasco County through Gulfside Hospice.

The event all began with Paul Correia’s desire to do something for Gulfside Hospice, which provided care for his father as he was approaching his death.

It started out as a birthday party, which has turned into an annual fundraiser, Churchill said.

Gulfside Hospice appreciates Correia’s work and generosity, Churchill said.

Paul Correia launched Paulie Palooza to raise money for Gulfside Hospice, who provided care to Correia’s father before his death. Since its inception in 2012, Paulie Palooza has raised more than $20,000 to support Gulfside Hospice.

Every penny helps, she said, noting that no patient is ever turned away from Gulfside Hospice because of an inability to pay.

Churchill said it’s not known yet how the new venue will affect attendance, but the venue is large — enabling the event to have more options for things to do for event-goers.

When the venue was used this year for the first time for the Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival, it drew an estimated 11,000 — the festival’s largest crowd ever.

The 14-acre site has a 20-by-40-foot stage and enough stalls, equipped with water and electricity, to accommodate 48 vendors.

Gulfside Hospice serves patients living in Pasco County who are facing end-of-life illnesses.

The interdisciplinary care team provides medical care focusing on symptom management and pain control. It also offers emotional and spiritual care from social workers, chaplains and volunteers.

For more information about Gulfside Hospice, call (800) 561-4883, or visit GHPPC.org.

Paulie Palooza
Zephyrhills Community Event Venue, at 5200 Airport Road
When: March 18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $5 admission, free parking; proceeds go to Gulfside Hospice
Details: Live music, local vendors, car show, food and more
Info: To find out more, contact Ashley Thibedeau, special events coordinator, at (727) 845-5707 or , or visit Facebook.com/GHPPC.

Published March 15, 2017