Ernie and Debbie Evans take over Sertoma Fest

Debbie and Ernie EvansEvans Media Source, a radio, entertainment and event promotion company run by grassers Ernie and Debbie Evans, will henceforth be hosting the annual Sertoma Youth Ranch Spring Bluegrass Festival in Brooksville, FL. The 2014 event, held March 27-30, will be the 28th year for the festival.

The Evans have earned a reputation as festival turnaround specialists in Florida, with Ernie bringing his many years of business experience to bear in rescuing long-running events that were having trouble staying afloat.

Like the Florida fests that had fallen on hard times during the recent economic downturn, Ernie found himself a victim as well. He was a successful regional sales manager for Mohawk, with his division regularly leading the company in sales. Things were great while the home building boom continued, but when that fell apart, his job was gone.

Faced with such a major life change, Evans and his wife Debbie decided that going into business for themselves was the right move. He knew he didn’t want to run a car lot, and what they loved best of all – and knew a great deal about – was bluegrass music. Even while he was working for Mohawk, the pair worked as a duo and in their own group, The Florida State Bluegrass Band.

Ernie plays mandolin, guitar, and banjo, and Debbie bass, and they both are talented singers. To help get started, Ernie took a job touring with Valerie Smith in 2009 while he and Debbie were getting Evans Media Source established. Now they work 100 dates a year in various configurations.

They also launched a radio program, The Sunday Afternoon Breakdown, broadcast weekly on WFCF FM 88.5 in St. Augustine.

Now a major part of their efforts involves helping small and medium-sized festivals grow, and taking struggling events and building them up. Prior to acquiring the Sertoma festival, Ernie had saved the ones in Waldo, FL from extinction.

Ernie Evans“They had 30 some years of holding bluegrass festivals there at the park in Waldo, but when things went south, the owner had to foreclose on the people running it. We were able to convince him to convert it to a year-round RV park, and we run the festival.

Likewise, Sertoma was going to shut down, and we worked out a deal to acquire the business. We’re now doing some rebuilding at the site and overhauling the whole program for 2014.”

Evans is also involved in the management of a number of smaller bluegrass events in Florida, plus large festivals for lovers of Celtic and country music.

He says that he’s never worked harder in his life, and never been more fulfilled.

“It’s the first time in my life I feel passionate about what I do. We get up early and work all day, and are tired when we go to bed. But both of us just love what we do.”

Well done, Ernie and Debbie.

For moe information about the Evans, including their band, radio work, events management, and the Waldo and Sertoma festivals, visit Evans Media Source online.

Share this:

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.