BROOKSVILLE — Nestled on 85 acres in a remote area of southeastern Hernando County, the Sertoma Youth Ranch offers a serene setting amid hills and forest.
It also serves as an excellent location to have multi-day festivals filled with music, camping and family entertainment.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that campsites for several upcoming festivals are filling up — such as the annual Camping with the Blues in October and the long-time staple Riverhawk Music Festival in November. Camping is always optional, as most events offer day passes. But for those who want the full experience, discounts are available for those who purchase ticket and camping packages early.
The Sertoma Youth Ranch, located at 85 Myers Road, lies on the border of Hernando and Pasco counties, south of Spring Lake and north of Dade City. The park offers camping sites for RVs, with water and electric, as well as primitive campsites. Children and pets on leashes are welcome at most, if not all, events.
Part of the income goes to the improvements and maintenance of the Sertoma Youth Ranch a nonprofit organization to bring youth and nature together. To contact Sertoma Youth Ranch, visit the website at sertomayouthranch.org or call (352) 754-3082.
Reservations are now being taken for the events coming in October and November:
• Camping with the Blues, Oct. 19-21: Featuring a full lineup of blues musicians and groups, such as JP Soars and the Red Hots, Beautiful Bobby Blackmon, Amanda Fish Band, Dirty Red and the Soul Shakers, and the Mark May Band. Campers can participate in acoustic jams. Advance weekend passes (three days) are $65 adults, $25 for ages 13-17 and free for ages 12 and younger. Advanced individual day passes are also available. Visit campingwiththeblues.com or call (941) 758-7585.
• Riverhawk Music Festival, Nov. 8-11: The 18th annual festival includes more than 20 nationally-touring bands on multiple stages performing country, Americana, rockabilly, Celtic, "newgrass" (progressive bluegrass), roots rock and more. Some favorites include Mustang Sally and the Hamjos, Dead Winter Carpenters, Eastman String Band, Robbin the Bank, and Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen. For campers, there will be plenty of dancing, craft exhibitors, music jams, food, activities and a stage dedicated for youth activities. There are a variety of ticket and camping packages available, with prices increasing as the event nears. Visit riverhawkmusic.com, call (863) 984-8445, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Thanksgiving Bluegrass Festival, Nov. 20-25: The 39th annual festival will feature a full lineup of groups, such as Lonesome River Band, Blue Highway, Special Consensus, Darrin and Brook Aldridge with John Cowan, Trinity River Band, the Grasscutters and Southern Express. Advance three-day passes vary from $75-$85 and are $90 at the gate; with day passes from $20-$35 at the gate. Children ages 10 to 16 pay $5; free for ages 9 and younger. To purchase tickets and/or campsites, and for advance reservations and details, call Lynda at (828) 265-9929 or email to TDayBluegrass@gmail.com.
Keep an eye out for other events scheduled in the coming months at the Sertoma Youth Ranch:
• Antemesaris Rock and Roll People's Party, Dec. 14-16
• Celtic Family Jamboree, Feb. 7-10
• Broken String Fling, Feb. 15-18
• Tin Can Tourists, Feb. 22-24
• Will McLean Music Festival, March 7-10
• Blues Bash, March 15-17
• Sertoma Bluegrass Festival, March 22-24
• Stringbreak, April 4-7
• Orange Blossom Jamboree, May 15-19.