Changing of the guard at Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival

Newell LodgeFollowing this past weekend’s festival at the Newell Resort in Folkston, GA, it has been announced that the festivals there will be run going forward as a partnership between the Carter family who owns the property, and Ernie and Debi Evans, who manage a string of festivals in Florida and Georgia through their company, Evans Media Source.

Ashley Carter will be responsible for the facility and lodge operations, and Ernie will handle booking and promotions, plus stage management during the festival. There are no firm plans to change the festival date, though discussions about moving the Spring festival into April are ongoing.

The next bluegrass show at Newell Lodge will be October 8-11, 2015.

The Wilson family, who had previously helped in running the festival, shared this statement of appreciation to all the fans and attendees they had served over the years.

Wilson Family Bluegrass Band“Over the past five years of assisting the Carter Family in establishing the Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival by booking entertainment, running sound, and various promotional endeavors, we have prided ourselves in producing a high quality event, featuring some of bluegrass music’s classiest artists. With the conclusion of last weekend’s event, the Wilson Family (Clint, Robert, and Melissa) will no longer be affiliated with the Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival, due to changes in personal priorities and a change in direction at Newell Lodge.

We would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the years. Your support and friendship has been invaluable to us. We would also like to thank Harvin Carter for trusting our opinions and for giving bluegrass a chance at this beautiful venue.”

Ashley is taking charge as her father, Harvin Carter looks toward retirement. She has been working alongside her dad this past six years in all aspects of the business, and is ready for her new responsibilities.

Ashley Carter - photo by Ted Lehmann“I’m sorry to see the Wilson family leave, but I am so excited about the new opportunities and the exceptional lineups we have in store for bluegrass enthusiasts. The Evans’ bring many years of passion and experience to the table and combined with all the investments, hospitality and picturesque surrounding we have built from the ground up, we feel our vision is on course to be fulfilled. We have already had a great response on our next show that will be held October 8-11, 2015 and by popular demand, fans will enjoy Nothin’ Fancy, Little Roy & Lizzie, The Moron Brothers, Blast of Grass, Gentlemen of Bluegrass, Greg Byrd, Jan Lad and Tuck Tucker. It’s going to be great!”

And her dad has no doubts that she is ready…

Harvin Carter - photo by Ted Lehmann“This is a great opportunity for Newell Lodge Bluegrass to broaden its assortment of bands, while providing quality entertainment for our bluegrass supporters. I am hoping, these changes will allow this part of our business to become self-supporting.  I have confidence in Ashley and will support her 110%, as she undertakes this new role.”

Ernie shared some details about his company’s part in the proceedings from here on.

Debi and Ernie Evans“My responsibilities are to act as an event planner on selected music events. I will be booking bands, managing the stage and working hand and hand with Ashley Carter. Debi and I will also be on site working and assisting from the ticket booth to the porta johns. It is a great opportunity for our company and custom fit for what we have geared our company to do.

We specialize in festival services from budgeting, talent scouting/procurement, site planning and facilitating, marketing all the way to the closing day. We have services that can handle any component of a festival to turn keying the entire event including box office.

Ashley Carter is a very bright young lady with a lot of responsibility and has impressed us thus far. Debi and I have enjoyed working with her and also see a bright future. It’s always a good situation when bluegrass wins again!”

It sounds like a great festival has a strong new team in place for future events at Newell Lodge. Find full details online.

On a related Ernie Evans note…

Ernie says that his bout with bladder cancer is continuing to show success. He’s 8 weeks past his last surgery, and doctor’s reports have been positive. Some pain and soreness remains, but Debi says it’s because he won’t slow down and rest!

A benefit concert is scheduled for this weekend to help Ernie and Debi with associated medical expenses. It will be held in the American legion Hall in Plymouth, OH on March 28 starting at noon. Featured entertainers include Paul Bryant & Kentucky Border, Harold Hamilton and Southern Tradition, Fossil Creek, Whitaker Brothers, Larry Efaw and the Bluegrass Mountaineers, Kenny Stinson and Perfect Tymn, Kevin Prater Band, Caney Creek, Travers Chandler and Avery Countya and Ralph Stanley II.

Those details can be found on Facebook.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.