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Pigging out is perfectly normal at this annual event

Published on: May 18, 2016

By LOIS KINDLE

Children like Roxy Morrison, left, and Kennedy Warbritton are welcome at the Pigs in the Parking Lot BBQ, Blues & Beer Fest, where special activities like balloon art, face painting and magic help keep them occupied. Kathy Evans photos.

Children like Roxy Morrison, left, and Kennedy Warbritton are welcome at the Pigs in the Parking Lot BBQ, Blues & Beer Fest, where special activities like balloon art, face painting and magic help keep them occupied. Kathy Evans photos.

The SouthShore Chamber of Commerce will host a fun-filled evening for the entire family Friday night at the 7th annual Pigs in the Parking Lot BBQ, Blues & Beer Fest.

The May 20 event will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. in the Winn-Dixie parking lot at the MiraBay Village Shopping Center in Apollo Beach and feature 10 different food vendors, live music and lots of cold beer. Thirty-five commercial, arts and crafts and nonprofit vendors will also be on hand.

“This event is all about the people and businesses in South Shore,” said Melanie Morrison, the chamber’s executive director. “It’s a great place to take your family, meet your friends and neighbors and get to know those who share your community. Everything but the food and beverages is free.”

Over the years, Pigs in the Parking Lot has developed into a big block party. Originally held at E. G. Simmons Park, the event was moved after the first year to its current site.

“We wanted a highly visible location and this one, which is right on U.S. 41, was perfect,” said Morrison. “We also wanted to provide free admission, which we are unable to do at our larger events, like the Ruskin Seafood Festival and Apollo Beach Manatee Festival of the Arts.

“Pigs in the Parking Lot is more about creating a fun experience for the entire community,” she continued. “We want people to come out, relax and really enjoy themselves while getting the chance to meet the businesses and nonprofits that serve them right here where they live.”

The event also helps its vendors.

“Businesses only have to invest a portion of one day,” Morrison said. “It’s an opportunity for them to meet potential clients face-to-face and feature their products and services.”

Owners agree.

Be sure to come hungry to the Pigs in the Parking Lot BBQ, Blues & Beer Fest, where 10 different food vendors will offer everything from your grilled favorites to smoked mullet, hot dogs, burgers and more. Admission and parking for the May 20 event are free.

Be sure to come hungry to the Pigs in the Parking Lot BBQ, Blues & Beer Fest, where 10 different food vendors will offer everything from your grilled favorites to smoked mullet, hot dogs, burgers and more. Admission and parking for the May 20 event are free.

“This will be our third year,” said Joshua Taylor, owner of Salty Scales, a fishing apparel company based in Ruskin. “For an event of this size (and duration), we’ve had an extreme amount of success. It brings the entire community together and gives everyone a chance to meet businesses they might not otherwise know.”

Southshore Uncorked, an Apollo Beach retailer, has also participated for years.

“We have people come in the store several months after saying they saw us at Pigs in the Parking Lot,” said co-owner Kathy Lieberman. “There’s always a good crowd, the event isn’t long and there’s no great expense or time commitment. It’s a great way to expose your business to the community.”

Annual favorites like Tampa Bay Martial Arts, South Shore Shabby Shack, American Momentum Bank and the South Shore Anglers will be joined this year by a number of newcomers, including Optical Outfitters, The Texture Room, Florida Tailgators and Touchstone Crystal. My Warrior’s Place, the Critter Adoption and Rescue Effort no-kill animal shelter and Flotilla 75 Coast Guard Auxiliary will be among the event’s nine nonprofit groups.

If you go, be sure to go hungry and take along the kids, Morrison said. Buttman BBQ, Econo Catering, Off the Chain BBQ and Miss Vi’s Cook-Up will be offering their best from the grill. And if barbecue isn’t your thing, The Mullet Shack, Doogie Dogs a GoGo, Bear Cakes and others will offer alternatives.

Children can check out the kids’ area, where U.S. Army recruiters from Brandon will make personalized dog tags and Jumbo the Purple Pirate will paint faces, perform magic and do balloon art.

Visitors line up at a previous year’s Pigs in the Parking Lot event to get Pork Bucks for their food purchases. Thousands of South Shore residents are expected to attend this year’s event which will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. May 20 in the Winn-Dixie parking lot at the MiraBay Village Shopping Center in Apollo Beach.

Visitors line up at a previous year’s Pigs in the Parking Lot event to get Pork Bucks for their food purchases. Thousands of South Shore residents are expected to attend this year’s event which will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. May 20 in the Winn-Dixie parking lot at the MiraBay Village Shopping Center in Apollo Beach.

This year’s Pigs in the Parking Lot BBQ, Blues & Beer Fest sponsors are Keller Williams Realty SouthShore, Crossfit Apogee, Mosaic, Easy A/C, Lasting Impressions Laser and M&M Printing.

For additional information, call 813-645-1366.

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