Tuesday, June 19, 2018
News Roundup

Weeki Wachee man wants to bring mud-bogging, music and TV reality show to Hernando

BROOKSVILLE — County commissioners on Tuesday heard a plan for what could be Hernando's next clean, light industry.

Well, maybe not so clean.

Mike Barbee of Weeki Wachee asked commissioners to help him with his plan for a mud-bogging and music park near Brooksville that he believes could bring the county millions in retail revenue — based on tens of thousands of beer-drinking fans and their mud-covered monster trucks that he believes would use the facility.

And he threw in a reality television show, to boot.

Commission Chairman Dave Russell's first response?

"You've come to the right place,'' he told Barbee.

Barbee, a businessman who creates green products and who said he has experience in the entertainment industry, pitched his mix of country music, truck fans and mud for a 150-acre parcel near the intersection of Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Yontz Road, just north of Brooksville. He said he and a partner have a contract to purchase the land.

He said he wanted to bring "some new blood'' into Hernando County and anticipated he could draw as many as 25,000 visitors to each month's events — concerts, sanctioned mud-bogging for monster trucks and a smaller bogging course for family entertainment.

Barbee told commissioners that he could see visitors spending upward of $200 each on their visits. And, he quipped, "That's just in beer.''

The plan is to create an environmentally friendly mud-bogging area on the property's upland, Barbee said. He noted that he already has consulted with officials from the Southwest Florida Water Management District to be sure the work is done correctly.

Barbee, a resident of the Tampa Bay area for more than 30 years, said he sees plenty of "for rent'' signs around the county and hopes his plan will provide the economic jolt Hernando County needs. He told commissioners that he didn't want anything from them Tuesday, but would appreciate some assistance in the future, including smooth sailing for his project and possibly some tax and economic development incentives.

After the meeting, Barbee told the Times he is filming the entire process of putting together the project. The working title for the reality show, he said, is Mud on the Barbee, and it would feature his four daughters and two sons.

He said mud-bogging is big everywhere and he could foresee an influx of families coming to Hernando County to enjoy the activities on his property. Barbee also said there are some top-quality country-western acts he would like to line up to perform.

The visit with commissioners Tuesday was just an introduction, he said. At the suggestion of County Attorney Garth Coller, he plans to meet with the county's business development manager, Michael McHugh, in the near future.

If the county will "think outside the box'' and let him start the business without putting hurdles in his way, he said, he could be up and running within three months.

Last month, he posted an advertisement on the Craigslist website seeking people interested in helping with the project.

He refers to it as the Brooksville-based "Mud Bog Reality Show.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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