By Gary Nager

If you’re still figuring out what you and your family are planning to do for Cinqo de Mayo — Saturday, May 5 — I suggest that you not miss this year’s ninth annual Rotary PigFest, which will again be held outside of St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church on Cross Creek Blvd., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.v

Six Rotary clubs — Tampa North, Temple Terrace, Wesley Chapel and all three New Tampa clubs (the original New Tampa Rotary breakfast club, New Tampa Noon and New Tampa Evening Rotary clubs) — will participate in this year’s event, which promises to be the biggest and best ever.

Event co-chair Peter Gambacorta says he and food co-chair Robert Garofano plan to more than double last year’s record PigFest attendance (of more than 900 people) by selling 2,000 tickets this time around.

“We’ve got a record nine teams roasting pigs this year for our barbecue contest,” says Gambacorta. “And we have more vendors, a 100-vehicle “Rotary Wheels” car and motorcycle show coordinated by the New Tampa Evening Rotary, great entertainment all day and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will judge this year’s pie-eating contest. We may even have an appearance at the event by Mrs. World April Lufriu. You don’t want to miss it!”

The cost of admission is $25 and for families, one child under age 12 gets in for free with each paid adult admission. For your admission, you receive a plate of delicious BBQ chicken and pulled pork with all the fixins’ provided by Lee Roy Selmon’s of New Tampa, free beer, wine, soda and water and the chance to enjoy the car show, the entertainment, the Vendor Village and the always great camaraderie.

“This year’s Vendor Village is open to any type of business and yes, you can sell your wares during the event,” says Gambacorta, “but we are having a focus on businesses owned and operated by women.” There may still be a vendor booth space or two available as you receive this issue, but the event is limited to 40 total.

“Some vendors will be selling food and cigars,” he says. “But we also have doctors, accountants, lawyers and retailers, too.” Vendor booths cost $100. An electrical hookup costs an additional $20.

Although your admission only includes your beverages and the food from Selmon’s, attendees can again purchase everything from vendor food to high-end raffle entries to tastes of the BBQ contestants’ different styles of roast pig using “Pig Bucks,” which will be on sale at the entrance to the PigFest. Speaking of money, the pig-roasting teams are competing for a top cash prize of $500, with professional BBQ judges deciding who will succeed last year’s winners — the “Meat Monkeys” from St. James United Methodist Church — as the PigFest champs for 2012.

Great Entertainment, Too!

As always, there will be entertainment all day for young and old alike. For the kids, the St. Mark’s playground will be open and supervised all day, and there also will be face-painting, the pie-eating contest, a tug-of-war contest, martial arts demonstrations and a Tampa Fire rescue truck on display.

Among the entertainers are again the Freedom High Jazz Band, popular local singer (and “PigFest Theme” songwriter) Bob Thompson, a color guard presentation and much more.

This year’s event also will feature an appearance by the Florida Blood Services Bloodmobile for those wishing to donate blood and a “Feeding America” food drive sponsored by the New Tampa Evening Rotary, so bring some non-perishable food with you to support this outstanding cause.

The Rotary PigFest itself is the largest single fund raising event to benefit each of the six participating nonprofit Rotary Clubs and the charities each supports with service projects and cash donations.

“We’re promising a bigger and better event and we plan to deliver just that,” Gambacorta says. “Join us!”

For more information about the 2012 Rotary PigFest, visit


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