Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Event Review: Bands Brew & BBQ 2014

This February, Bands Brew & BBQ made its comeback with over 100 craft brew beers, exclusive culinary and dining options, and world class entertainment! This past weekend I was able to cover the event for my blog and I must say it was a very fun experience! You can find my full review of the event in the text below.

Dining & Culinary

Alongside the wonderful food Busch Gardens' culinary team produces every day, vendors such as Smokey Bones, Kojaks House Of Ribs, Outback Steakhouse, and The Penguin Pretzel Factory were all on hand at the event selling delicious food for park guests to enjoy. While I was strolling through Gwazi Park, the wafting aroma of fresh made waffles brought me straight to the Busch Gardens stand that was selling Chicken & Waffles. I was a little skeptical about trying this unusual combination but it turned out to be one of the best things I've ever eaten at a theme park! The Chicken & Waffles came with a very large Belgian waffle, a generous portion of fried chicken tenders, and your choice of traditional maple syrup or a spicy chili syrup. I chose to go the traditional way with the regular syrup and boy was I impressed! The Chicken & Waffles are definitely my new favorite culinary creation at the event and I really hope that they make their return next year!   

Later that day, I returned to Gwazi Field in search of a light snack before the Bret Michaels concert at 5:00 PM. I searched the entire walkway full of vendors but found nobody selling lighter fare until I stumbled upon the Penguin Pretzel Factory. The Pretzel Factory's menu was very simple, pretzels! I splurged and I decided to get the fancy looking pretzel dog. The pretzel dog was an all beef hot dog wrapped in the Pretzel Factory's signature Pretzel dough then baked until golden brown, yum! For a dollar extra, you could add a cup of cheese sauce to your order. I passed on the sauce as the pretzel dog looked great just by itself! The pretzel dog was very good!  The dough was soft and the hot dog was perfectly cooked. It was great!       


The event definitely brought some unique shopping opportunities! A featured artist by the name of Ann Dalton had her own stand on the Gwazi Field walkway showcasing all of her paintings, many of them animal themed. Her paintings were available for purchase and they ranged from $100 to over $1000. From previous events that utilize Gwazi Park's walkway such as Christmas Town, a growing trend is to bring in artisans that hand craft their artwork. Throughout Christmas Town, a glass blower was on hand making beautiful pieces right there on the spot!

Busch Gardens also had a few kiosks here and there selling t-shirts, pins, and various glassware. They also had a rock and roll themed kiosk as well as a country themed kiosk selling items related to their respective genres.


Each day of Bands Brew & BBQ brings a new and unique entertainer to the Gwazi Field stage each night at 5:00 PM. The day I was at the event, rock and roll icon Bret Michaels was rocking the stage at Gwazi Park! I've never really listened to his music, but I must say he knows how to put on a show! His band came out around 5:00 PM and did their sound check while the man himself came out soon after. The concert was fairly long and the songs seemed to have many guests singing along. It was interesting to me that kids younger than the age of 10 knew the lyrics to some of his songs by heart! After the concert was finished, guests had the opportunity to meet Bret for $200. All of the money collected from the meet and greet went straight to a charitable cause, a win-win situation on both ends!

Fun & Miscellaneous

I decided to throw this section in as it might appeal to some of you out there! Members of Busch Gardens' Adventure League were on hand at the entrances to Gwazi Park Walkway and the stage area itself to help you with all of your questions and concerns relating to the event. Stilt walkers were also roaming around the walkway informing guests of the upcoming performances and events throughout they day. 

Scattered throughout the walkway were various midway games themed to the Bands Brew & BBQ setting. Games included bean bag toss and frisbee toss.

 It's harder than it looks!

Overall, the event was great! The food and entertainment that Busch Gardens provides to its fans is truly world class. I can't wait to see what Bands Brew & BBQ has in store for next year's event. Remember, the event still runs for two more weekends as of February 26th. Be sure to get out to the park and have a great time!

For the latest information and coverage of Busch Gardens Tampa, be sure to follow Viktor Tuparov on Twitter.


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