12th Annual Pigz in Z’Hills State Championship is in the books!

By Meaghan Goepferich Posted on March 31, 2022

The 12th Annual Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival on March 4th & 5th , was thrilled to host its first large event, since COVID, more than two years ago. More than 4,000 people came out to enjoy the two-day festival at the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.

12th Annual Pigz in Z’Hills State Championship is in the books!

Music flowed from the AdventHealth Pavilion with blues on Saturday with performances by Memphis Lightning, The Kid Royal Band, Jimmy Griswold, and TC Carr. Successful events were added to Friday night and included a Kidz Grillin’ Competition, Cornhole Tournament, amazing music performed by Chuck
Riley’s All-Star, and a local band, the Sandspurs. At any one time, hundreds of people were gathered to listen, dance, and eat award-winning barbecue purchased from the professional and backyard barbecue teams competing at the event.

“We’re thrilled to see this event back in action. We, at the Chamber, are ecstatic to finally feel some sense of normal since COVID hit some two years ago,” said Melonie Monson, CEO of the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce. “Being named as the Florida BBQ Association State BBQ Championship was an exciting honor and brought 56 teams from all over the state to compete and vie for the 2022 State BBQ Championship.”

As usual, the festival was built around a Florida BBQ Association-approved barbecue competition. Fifty-six competition teams, both professional and backyard competed for top honors and trophies in four standard categories of Chicken, Pork, Brisket, and Ribs. Professional teams have the added incentive of potentially winning $10,000 in prizes.

In the professional barbecue division, Accutech BBQ of Sarasota, FL. under head cook John Fries took top place overall winning the coveted 2022 State BBQ Championship. Hot Wachula’s of Bartow, FL., led by Matt Barber took Reserve Champion.

Backyard division winners were Matty B’s of Plant City, FL. under Matt Bowers in first place, Sloppy Hogs of Naples, FL. took second place under Todd Bender. Three local teams finished high in the ranking; Bahr’s Smokin’ Butts under head cook Kevin Bahr finished 4 th Overall and 2 nd Place in Pork. Daryl Coleman of
Coleman’s BBQ took 1 st Place in Ribs and 5 th Overall, and Dr. Rick Moore of Smoke Show took 1 st Place in Brisket. Monson stated, “It was great to see our local teams compete with the big guys and show off their skills and the great BBQ being made right here in Z’Hills. “

For the 12 th Anniversary celebration, the Chamber continued some great events on Friday night and the Kidz Grillin’ Competition was the highlight. This was made possible by many local businesses and premier sponsors, Bahr’s Propane Gas & AC and Chick-fil-A Zephyrhills. This event was put on by the chamber’s new foundation, The East Pasco Chamber Foundation, and hosted 25 kids ranging from 4-15 years old. “Sponsors from all over helped donate money, supplies, and goodies to make this event free for each competitor”, states Monson.

“The Kidz Comp was my personal highlight of the weekend. More than five BBQ teams stepped up to mentor each competitor. It was so much fun to watch mentor and child figure out their rub, talk about how to cook the pork loin and encourage them every step of the way. I think parents and siblings had as much fun as the competitors.” Each kid walked away with a goodie bag full of great prizes with items donated by; Sonny’s BBQ, SouthState Bank, Light the Grill Catering & More, The Home Depot, Rural King, Hot Wachula’s BBQ Team, along with the meat which was donated by Publix of Zephyrhills.

The Kidz Competition was judged by locals as well. Guest judges included, Scott Amole, owner of the Zephyrhills Chick-Fil-A, Councilman Kenneth Burgess, Scotty “Santa” Paulsen, Pastor Ken Ringeisen, and Councilwoman Jodi Wilkerson. “The evening ended with our winners being honored”, states Monson. “Twelve-year-old Devin Brown placed 1 st , with local cooks Aryana Coleman in 2nd , and Daniella Gutierrez taking 3 rd . Each child was recognized during the award ceremony with a medal and the top ten received certificates. The winners took home amazing trophies along with many cheers from the crowd. It is wonderful to see the impact Pigz has on our community.”

The community festival offered fun for all ages with inflatables at the Kidz Zone, sponsored by Suncoast Credit Union, three cornhole tournaments, a business expo showcasing more than 60 vendors, along with concession vendors of all kinds. Also included was access to the Military History Museum, which is a must see in Zephyrhills. Local entrepreneurs from Rhino Smash, created the official 2022 State Championship BBQ Sauce, which is still available for sale at the Chamber office.

Veteran Mike Schuerman won the raffle prize, which was a one-of-a-kind set of cornhole boards, donated by local artisan Bob Case.

“As always, our Pigz committee did a bang-up job organizing this event. Our volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the day to make everything go smoothly,” concluded Monson. “Our logistics team lead by Bob Hartwig worked for days again this year to lay out the entire venue ensuring everyone was set up and happy. I can’t express how thrilled I am to see the positive results from everyone’s hard work.”

Over the years, the Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Festival has distinguished itself to be a qualifier for four prestigious championship contests: the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational in Lynchburg, Tenn., considered the Super Bowl of BBQ contests; the American Royal World Series of BBQ in Kansas City, the world’s oldest contest; the Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown Invitational of Sanford, Fla.; and the World Food Championships, in Orange Beach, Al.

This event is made possible by all of our wonderful sponsors, to include; Florida’s Sports Coast, the
City of Zephyrhills, Suncoast Credit Union, AdventHealth, American Infrastructure Development, Duke Energy PuroClean, Sonny’s BBQ, Bahr’s Propane Gas & AC, Chick-fil-A of Zephyrhills, Jarrett Ford, SouthState Bank, Tampa Bay Times, and more.

Thank you for the continued support in making this event great!


Professional Division

Grand Champion
Accutech BBQ
Reserve Champion
Hot Wachula’s
1 st – Accutech BBQ
2 nd – Roosters Bulls & Boars BBQ
3 rd – Keepin it Smokin
1 st – GitChewSum BBQ
2 nd – Done Right Smokin’
3 rd – Backman BBQ
1 st – Hot Wachula’s
2 nd – Keep it Smokin’
3 rd – Accutech BBQ
1 st – Going Yard BBQ
2 nd – Cold Beer BBQ
3 rd – Backyard Bros

Backyard Division
Grand Champion
Matty B’s BBQ
Reserve Champion
Sloppy Hogs
1 st – Coleman’s BBQ
2 nd – Matty B’s BBQ
3 rd – The Bearded Smoker
1 st – Sloppy Hogs
2 nd – Matty B’s BBQ
3 rd – The Bearded Smoker
1 st – Sloppy Hogs
2 nd – Bahr’s Smokin’ Butts
3 rd – Smokin’ J’s BBQ
1 st – Smoke Show
2 nd – Lazy Bones BBQ
3 rd – Sloppy Hogs



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