Blues, barbecue highlight Zephyrhills' annual Pigz in Z'Hills festival
Blues music and a barbecue competition will be the main attraction as the gates open Saturday for the 3rd Annual Pigz in Z'Hills BBQ & Blues festival The event will be held at Krusen Field in Zephyrhills. Presented by the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce, the competition is sanctioned by the Florida BBQ Association and professional BBQ teams will be competing for trophies and a total of $6,050 in cash. Backyard barbecue cooks will compete for trophies and bragging rights. Music begins at the Live Blues Stage at 11 a.m. with solo artist Ed Wright. Cold Play returns for the third year at 1 p.m. At 3 p.m., "Angel for Blues" Julie Black will offer selections from her new album, and favorites from the past. BBQ dinners and other refreshments will be on sale from various vendors. Arts and Crafts will also be available. In addition, there will be a business expo and a classic car and motorcycle show. A "Kidz Zone" will offer children's activities planned by a partnership between East Pasco YMCA and student volunteers from Saint Leo University.If the weather permits, professional skydivers from Skydive City in Zephyrhills will be gliding in for the show. While the prize money is a big draw for professional teams, the "real payoff" is that the community and local charities and programs benefit from each successful event, said Zephyrhills Chamber Executive Director Vonnie Mikkelsen. Proceeds from Pigz in Z'Hills BBQ & Blues benefit the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce, particularly its scholarship fund. Other local student organizations also get money. Proceeds from last year's event benefited eight local youth and education programs, all of which were active participants or volunteers, Mikkelsen said. The official currency for BBQ and Blues is Pigz Bucks. One Pigz Buck is equal to $1 and may be purchased at Pigz Buck booths. At 5 p.m., teams will gather around the Sonny's Real Pit BBQ Swine Terrace for a trophy ceremony as the FBA judging team announces the competition results. BBQ and Blues grew threefold from its first to its second year, Mikkelsen said, and even larger crowds are expected this year. "This is what makes the hundreds of hours of planning by volunteers and staff worth the effort," said Mikkelsen. "Teams sign up enthusiastic and confident in their BBQ skills … but then find creative ways to utilize the opportunity to raise money for a charity." And if they aren't raising money for their favorite charity, they are simply having a good time doing just what this town knows how to do so well — gather for some good old-fashioned family fun in support of the local community." Gates will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Charles B. Krusen Memorial Field in Zephyrhills. Admission is $5, kids younger than 12 years old are admitted for free. There is open bleacher seating around the music and announcement stage, but people are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Event organizers ask that pets be left home as only service animals will be admitted on the field. The Zephyrhills 3rd Annual Pigz in Z'Hills BBQ and Blues Fest is sponsored by the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce in partnership with The Tampa Tribune/TBO.com, News Channel 8 and Nestle Waters/Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water as well as a number of businesses. For details, call (813) 782-1913, or visit zephyrhillschamber.org.