Zephyrhills Free Press

Pigz in Z’Hills

Reinvented festival brings the community out for BBQ and Blues

COVID-19 and impending weather could not stop today’s Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ and Blues Festival at the Zephyrhills Event Venue.

In years past, the festival brought more than 10,000 people annually to Zephyrhills, but this year was different as COVID-19 precautions forced organizers to reinvent this year’s event. BBQ meals were prepared by a pair of local BBQ teams, Bahr’s and Puroclean, and served by several volunteers through a drive thru format.

The Blues concert kicked off at 4 p.m. and was cut short due to a severe thunderstorm that ripped through the area. The Chuck Riley All Stars played in front of a socially distant crowd of nearly 300 people.

“It is definitely different this, but we wouldn’t miss it,” said Mike Simons of Wesley Chapel. “We’ve been dying to see some good live Blues music. We are here every year and we weren’t going to miss this.”

The future of the BBQ and Blues Festival was in doubt and it was postponed from its schedule late January date. The only way to make it happen in a COVID-19 world, was to reinvent it. The staple events like the car show and cornhole tournament were held again with good participation.

“Just putting this on is success,” said Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce CEO Melonie Monson. “No matter if 500 people walk through the gate or 1,000. It’s a matter that we did this and it’s for the community. That’s why we do what we do.”

The drive thru aspect of the event allowed those who come for the BBQ, can still get a great meal and take it home to enjoy. Many presale drive thru ticket were sold as well as many who drove up and placed their orders.

“We just want people to come and enjoy the best way we can,” Monson said. “We know it’s different.”

Monson said the 2022 event will be the rebirth of the Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ and Blues Festival with competitive BBQ returning and a day-long concert of Blues bands.

“This event shows that the community is stepping up,” Monson said. “We can’t wait for next year.”

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