SPRING LAKE — As a board member for the Sertoma Youth Ranch and the president and owner of Mojoe Productions, Greg Herndon has had the opportunity to put together numerous music festivals, not only at the youth ranch but throughout the eastern United States.
In recent years, Herndon admits, he has been asked numerous times to bring a blues festival to the local youth ranch. That long-awaited endeavor came to fruition in 2014 with the inaugural Camping with the Blues, a three-day blues festival.
The blues fest returns for its second run this weekend at the Sertoma ranch, with an impressive list of entertainers who "stay true to the blues."
"Last year's (crowd) was small, but we expected that," Herndon said. More important, he added, is the caliber of acts the festival draws.
"These are all top-notch folks in the blues world," Herndon said. "They are brilliant artists, and anyone who knows the blues should know all of them."
This weekend's lineup includes artists who perform at venues throughout the United States, such as the Chicago-based Joe Moss Band, a 2013 inductee to the Blues Hall of Fame; Texas guitar prodigies the Peterson Brothers, and Tampa's own blues guitar player Damon Fowler.
The event is being produced by Herndon and partner Paul Benjamin, founder of the successful North Atlantic Blues Festival.
"This event is unique in its own right," Herndon said. "In fact, this may be the only blues festival and camping event in Florida."
The festival kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday, featuring music by Brent Johnson, Joe Moss and Teeny Tucker. Saturday's lineup includes Daddy Mack Blues Band, Rockin' Jake, the Peterson Brothers, Bobby Messano, Tas Cru, the Lauren Mitchell Band and the Damon Fowler Band. Sunday includes the Bridget Kelly Band, Skyla Burrell and Anni Piper.
A jam session will follow Saturday's performances. There will be vendors on site, including food and drinks for sale.
Nestled on 85 acres in a remote area of southeastern Hernando County, the Sertoma Youth Ranch offers a serene setting amid hills and forest. Festival-goers can stay either for the day or for the weekend. The park offers camping sites for RVs, with water and electric, as well as primitive campsites.
"This is such a beautiful park," Herndon said. "A large percent (of guests) are people who have never been here before. And it makes me feel good to see them return."