Final touches have been added to the new festival venue in Zephyrhills and now all that is left is to hold an event, which will happen Jan 21 when the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce Pigz in Z’hills BBQ & Blues Festival christens the venue and announces its official name.
The City of Zephyrhills had led the way in providing the piece of Zephyrhills Municipal Airport property and the muscle and equipment for preparing the property to be a major gathering place for non-profit events. The city’s investment into the venue exceeds $42,000 and more when manpower and equipment are tallied.
“I think it’s a positive thing that we have venue site like that,” said Zephyrhills City Manager Steve Spina. “It will be a learning experience. I’m looking forward to hosting BBQ & Blues there and see how we work it. We have to determine how to utilize it because every festival is going to take a lot of maintenance.”
Spina said that the city’s Public Works Director Shane LeBlanc has been a key worker in getting the venue ready for its first festival on time. “He’s been like the project manager for us,’ Spina said. LeBlanc has installed additional fencing for security and has put up privacy screening on the city yard fence next door to the venue to block sight of equipment and stored items at the yard. “[He] put down a couple roads that will facilitate parking and brought in extra dirt to fill in holes at the site. Shane’s really done a lion’s share of that work.”
Other organizations and businesses have also contributed large donations of money, fixtures and skills. Florida Hospital Zephyrhills gave $30,000 to build the permanent, covered stage that will bear the hospital’s name. In addition, several local businesses
have contributed by performing electrical, plumbing and construction or providing personnel with practical or technical guidance at the site. Noteworthy among those businesses are John Kinsman of Martin Electric, Paul Correia of Sunstate Aluminum, Bob Winters of Winters Park, and Bob Hartwig of Bahr’s Propane and Gas. Hartwig, a former city fire chief, has assumed logistic responsibilities for the upcoming BBQ event.
Through the efforts of Rod Lincoln of the Zephyrhills Sonny’s BBQ, Sonny’s Corporate has donated a building that will serve as a backdrop to the stage and a base of operations. Tim Linville of E-Z Clean Car Wash has provided a shipping container to be repurposed as a temporary storage unit at the venue.
Melonie Monson, executive director of the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce has had general oversight of the venue construction from the beginning.
“A huge “Thank You” needs to go out to our city,” Monson said. “Here at the chamber we are elated with what they have accomplished at the new venue. It is surpassing our expectations. Thanks to the generous donations from our city and local businesses our dreams of a permanent home for Pigz in Z’Hills is coming true. The City of Zephyrhills Public Works Director, Shane LeBlanc, and his crew have gone above and beyond to make this venue a beautiful site. It has been amazing to go out every few days and see the
progress they are making. We know it has been a lot of hard work, but we know it will be worth it as we showcase our city to the thousands of people who come to our event. As of this point, we are 99 percent of the way there and look forward to representing and the great city of Zephyrhills at Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues.
The 14-acre event site is located at 5200 Airport Rd. and features a 20-by-40 stage and 50 spaces equipped with water and electric as well as additional space for free-standing vendors, car shows, business expos and children’s activities.
The venue may be used for a variety of events and fundraisers organized by non-profit organizations. Several organizations have expressed interest in using the event site including the Rotary Club of Zephyrhills, Thomas Promise Foundation, Ride for Hospice and Paulie Palooza. Monson said that there were other possible events waiting in the wings such as a rebirth of the Zephyrhills Celtic Festival and a Balloon Fest.
For more information, contact the Zephyrhills chamber at (813) 782-1913.