Saturday, February 3, 2018
Amity Shlaes has written a nuanced and compassionate account of the life of our 30th President called, simply, Coolidge (HarperCollins, 2013, 595 pages, available new and used, Kindle edition $8.99), touting what are often seen as his liabilities as strengths which brought dignity and acclaim to Coolidge in a difficult time of major changes in America and the world, as we recovered from World War I and adjusted to a country fraught with social, economic, political re-adjustment. Coolidge, while far from perfect, emerges as a model of probity, humility, and service which, given serious attention in today’s overheated political, technological, and media environment, provide a model for behavior and restraint. Often seen today as a “do-nothing” minor holder of our top office, belittled by the nickname Silent Cal, he is shown as intelligent, thoughtful, reserved, and, during his administration, both admired and liked.
Born into an influential but far from wealthy, family of Vermont farmers, small business proprietors, and political functionaries, his family history showed a strain of community mindedness, as his father, grandfather, and uncles had served as school board members, and in the local and state legislatures. Political action was viewed as a responsibility, not an ambition. Calvin Coolidge (born July 4, 1872, the only president born on Juy 4th) was physically slight, reserved, and, as he grew through school and began college at Amherst, unpromising. His lack of what today would be called charisma seems to have been a part of his effectiveness, though, and related to his always upward life path. He became noted as a listener and a quiet doer. People who befriended him found themselves drawn to him, despite (or maybe because of) his quiet, gentle demeanor.
Coolidge, having read the law in a local law office rather than attending a law school, was drawn to politics, but, in his quiet and unprepossessing fashion, sought lower level offices on boards and committees, which helped him to learn local issues as well as grow in his skills of negotiation and finding compromises which would leave multiple parties happy. Shlaes consistently makes reference to large economic, political, and social changes occurring nationally as the turn of the century rolls around. She points to the Spanish American war, the emergence of industrialism, immigration, and technology as Coolidge warns his father that he will be a man of the 20th century, not the 19th which will require new skills and perspectives. With each physical and intellectual move Coolidge makes, Shlaes always places it in a larger context, laying groundwork for the president he will become. Coolidge’s posture towards the battles that were continuing to rage between progressives and conservatives became that legislators should not be ideologues, but choose the path that serves the greater good in each setting. He sought a balance between labor and capital that would help corporations thrive while working people received ever higher living wages, leading to the advancement of both.
On the other hand, by refusing to compromise during the 1919 Boston police strike, to find middle ground between the police strikers and their duty as police officers, Coolidge established a line that broke the already crumbling strike. Unlike his usual strategy of bringing factions together to find acceptable middle ground, his position of firing the police and making no compromises with behavior that led to the riots, Coolidge established himself as a man who could be counted on to make a hard decision in a time great difficulty. His choice was met with local and national acclaim. Where President Wilson had hesitated, more interested in his national tour pushing the doomed League of Nations, to speak out, Coolidge, as governor of Massachusetts, had taken an uncompromising stand toward the strike which garnered national attention and the first inklings among political watchers that he might be presidential timber.
Selected by the Republicans to become Warren G. Harding’s running mate in the 1920 election, he was able to keep enough independence not to get caught up in the scandals (Teapot Dome and others) associated with Harding, thus succeeding to the presidency when Harding died in the second year of his term without being associated with Harding’s problems, while able to continue to pursue (at least in name) the policies of his predecessor. For the next six years, Coolidge managed to cut spending, reduce taxes, create a balanced budget, and reduce the national debt. By the time he reached the decision not to run again (“I do not choose to run!”) he was widely admired and even liked as a conservative and public spirited man working for the benefit of all. He maintained his posture that the government had no business in local issues in the face of national disasters growing out of disastrous flooding in the South and New England, always the consistent and even-handed administrator and leader.
Amity Ruth Shlaes is an American author and newspaper and magazine columnist. Shlaes writes about politics and economics from a US libertarian perspective. Shlaes has authored a number of books, including three New York Times Bestsellers (Wikipedia profile)
As Coolidge ages too quickly in retirement, the value of his care with words, his holding back to allow the processes to work themselves through, emerges in public consciousness. In his columns, as in his speeches and interviews as President, Coolidge makes each precious word count for more by husbanding the total. The contrast between his approach to his role and celebrity presidents goes almost without saying. Playing his cardsc honestly, close to the vest, even with changes in communications and technology, clearly gives the president’s words more impact and influence. Amity Shlaes has presented a powerful picture of a man who in public and private life lived within the restraints of humility and service while accomplishing much. Coolidge offers a portrait more students of our history should seek to learn from and emulate. I bought the book and read it on my Kindle.
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Louis Golambos’ new biography Eisenhower: Becoming the Leader of the Free World (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018, 296 pages, $23.65, 25.58) presents a picture of Dwight David Eisenhower, the thirty-fourth President of the United States, from the perspective his career as it prepared him for becoming Supreme Allied Commander of American forces in Europe during World War II, which propelled him into the presidency, succeeding Harry Truman in 1952 and serving as President until 1960. As a general, during World War II, he was widely, and justly, credited with having used superior organizational and political skills to coordinate allied efforts towards ultimate and complete victory, while garnering the recognition and popularity to achieve a huge electoral victory in 1952. As president, he again balanced a variety of national and international interests to lead America back towards peace while establishing the military might that staved off war with Soviet Russia. Furthermore, he coordinated efforts to bring the Korean conflict to its lingering conclusion, despite never being able to broker more than an armistice there. Most prominent in the biography is Golambos’ emphasis on Eisenhower’s preparation for and assumption of leadership, while his domestic and personal life is downplayed.
Golambos emphasizes the development of Eisenhower’s character growing up in relative poverty in Abilene, Kansas where his father was an angry, disappointed smart person who never achieved the social or economic position he thought he deserved, leading to an often violent approach to discipline with his six sons. Meanwhile his mother, Ida, was a deeply religious, warm, effective mother who dealt lovingly and thoughtfully with her developing sons. According to Golumbus, Ike’s early career at West Point and in the Army was dominated by the conflict between his two contrasting parents, leading to a strong and effective leadership style with his subordinates but to his having a difficult time dealing with authority at West Point and later which, in his early Army career, retarded his advancement.
His slow rise in the post war Army was worsened by his resistance to authority, often showing a temper he sought throughout his career to control. Early, he showed himself to be a prescient analyst of the future needs and directions of the Army, often rejected by superior officers trained in the pre-war environment of horses and then trench warfare. Eisenhower understood and promoted the importance of the tank as the coming major offensive weapon against the resistance of his superior officers, leading the retarding of his advancement. His assignments often emphasized training positions which also allowed him to coach football, but kept him as a staff officer. Meanwhile Douglas MacArthur and others who had earned combat stars, moved up the Army hierarchy.
He was lucky to be noticed by General Fox Connor who became his and Patton’s mentor. Conner mentored Ike as his Chief of Staff in Panama. He had the qualities to teach Ike how to manage the bureaucracy above him by attention to detail while developing confidence in his own ability to lead. He gained greater responsibility and was assigned to training tank troops under George S, Patton who was in Pershing’s command. Sent to train tank officers in Gettysburg, he continued to rise, but without distinction. He was deemed by his superiors to treat “others with respect and gave careful attention to their needs. He demanded discipline without being petty.” A pretty good description of the parenting he had received from his mother. Ike’s rise in the Army depended upon insights from two mentor/sponsors who recognized in him qualities not readily apparent to others. Fox Conner during the period between WWI and WWII and General George C. Marshall’s appointing him to be the top general in the planning for the invasion of Europe, which, at the time seemed to be a “stunning” move on Marshall’s part.
This book contains important lessons about leadership within a bureaucracy that rising or potential leaders should learn if they are to succeed. The book has significant relevance to those who would seek advanced leadership in any setting – business, schools, politics, or the military. The progress of Ike’s career and the Golumbus’ account of his weaknesses and strengths point to skills which should be emphasized in leadership programs in graduate school as well as learned by potential mentors and those seeking leadership themselves. Golumbus’ skill in relating these lessons to the historical herky-jerky prograss of Ike’s career is carefully structured and presented in such a way as to make it palatable to all the but the most heedless people who find themselves stymied in their ambitions.
At the close of the war Eisenhower accepted the presidency of Columbia University, a role he was totally unsuited for, while preparing for his run at the presidency. In assessing Ike’s role as president, Golumbos points to his achieving world peace and insuring American prosperity, while developing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to resist Soviet expansion in eastern Europe. Eisenhower’s entire career path had prepared him to use guile, charm, and power in equal proportions to maintain the U.S. at the top of world influence. He spent lavishly on retaining military strength while campaigning ceaselessly for peace, all with his world famous Eisenhower grin.
The book contains only one mention of Ike’s relationship to his driver Kay Summersby, but there’s a longer and more useful note that helps redress that oversight. Also, his deteriorating relationship with his wife, Mamie, who became a difficult alcoholic as she aged, is hardly discussed in the text, which focuses very successfully on Ike’s developing leadership skills, his ability to work across a wide range of personalities, organizational goals, and systems to achieve what Golambos calls a “middle way.”
Louis Golambos is professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University. He edited The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, a massive twenty-four volume collection.
Eisenhower is often seen as a plodder who emerged from a very long development period, rising to the demands of command during World War II and then rode his fame to two terms as President. He is revealed. Eisenhower: Becoming the Leader of the Free World (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018, 296 pages, $23.65, 25.58) in this very thorough account of his professional military and political life, as a talented leader, able to encourage subordinates to obtain the best from them with a vision far greater than he is often given credit for having. Almost one third of the text is devoted to references and extensive notes. Golumbos has made a substantial contribution to understanding of this important military and political leader of the second half of the twentieth century. I read the book as an electron pre-publication copy provided by the publisher by Edelwiess: Beyondthe Treeline. I read it on my Kindle app.
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Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Evans Media Source presents The Florida Bluegrass Classic a bluegrass and classic country festival, at the Classic Park in Brooksville, FL running from February 20-25, 2018 featuring activities and music from Tuesday through Sunday filled with fun, fellowship, song, celebration. Held in memory of Florida bluegrass artist Roscoe Canaday, this is the third year this festival has been held in Brooksville, having moved from its former home in Waldo, FL. In addition to the music, the event will feature a display of Classic Cars and a tribute to our Veterans with an appropriate memorial.
TG Sheppard (Sat)
I Loved Them Every One
T.G. Sheppard had fourteen hits on the U.S. country charts during the 1980's, including eight consecutive ones between 1980 and 1982. His love of country music was so deep he dropped out of high school at age fifteen to run off to Nashville to become a part of the music scene there. Sheppard made his biggest impact with the pop country sounds of the early eighties, his last number one hit with Strong Heart. He continues to tour throughout the nation and to release new albums. His appearance at The Bluegrass Classic, continues the pattern that Ernie Evans has established of inviting major touring country musicians from the eighties and nineties to perform at what have, in the past, been seen as primarily bluegrass only. This fusion has become popular with his audience and spread the Evans Media Source brand more broadly, bringing country artists to bluegrass and introducing bluegrass fans to a more diverse musical palette.
I Loved Them Every One
The Atlantic City Boys (Sat)
The Atlantic City Boys return to an EMS festival after their rousing appearance at YeeHaw Junction last year. Playing rock and roll songs from the days of male quartets like The Drifters, The Four Seasons, Frankie Valle, The Four Seasons, The BeeGees, the Rat Pack, and even the Beatles, delivering high energy musical excitement backed by a recorded track. Their charm, humor, and warmth permeate their show with good feelings, especially for audiences who treasure music of the era. They have performed from Atlantic City to Las Vegas to Disney World where audiences of young and old who treasure good singing and fun have made them popular enough to support multiple touring groups.
Atlantic City Boys
Nothin Fancy (Th & Fri)
Nothin' Fancy has been touring large and small bluegrass festivals across the nation for over twenty years, bringing strong singing, fine instrumental work, and good fun to audiences who love both their music and their humor. With much of their original music written by mandolinist Mike Andes, one of the group's founders, Nothin' Fancy has been remarkably stable over the years. They are popular with bluegrass audiences everywhere.
Larry Gillis - Classic Country Show (Tu)
Larry Gillis comes from the swamps of southern Georgia, where his "Swampgrass" version of gritty, emotion-filled bluegrass music emerged and he is one of the foremost practitioners. He has recently become a favored interpreter of the music of Merle Haggard and other hard-edged country musicians. His music has become increasingly popular as he merges country and bluegrass music into a crossover music with its own flavor and feel.
Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road (Sat)
Lorraine & Eddie Raven
Billy Droze (Fri & Sat)
Billy Droze - Better with Time
Lorraine Jordan comes from the part of North Carolina where the Piedmont blends into the Lowlands. She claims to bleed blue, and I believe it. Over the nearly twenty years that we've been watching her play traditional bluegrass while part of her is deeply imbued with country music, too. She hit the jackpot a couple of years ago when she asked a group of country music stars from the seventies and eighties to record with her bluegrass band. The resulting album merged as Country Grass, and opened a number of doors to this innovator who also brought together the "Ladies of Bluegrass" several years ago. Last year she appeared with Eddy Raven at The Bluegrass Classic, and she returns this year for another go 'round with her very capable band.
Lorraine & Eddie Raven
Billy Droze (Fri & Sat)
Billy Droze began his career in country music, but has found a home and success in bluegrass. He has had four chart topping songs in the last year, bringing youth, enthusiasm, and a first rate knowledge of the two somewhat different manifestations of a music found in the great expanses of rural America. This is his second appearance at The Bluegrass Classic, where he was warmly received last year. We enjoyed his work later in the year at Dumplin Valley, where he was also a hit. As with many successful bluegrass artists, he's emerging in his early thirties as a first rate talent who tears down some barriers while maintaining a deep respect for the traditions of the music.
Billy Droze - Better with Time
Kenny Stinson & Perfect Tym'n (Th)
Kenny Stinson comes from central Kentucky, about half way between Bowling Green and Nashville, TN, a pretty good place for a bluegrass career to be nurtured. Getting his start as a professional musician in gospel music more than thirty years ago, he later switched to primarily bluegrass where he played for the likes of Jimmy Martin and and J.D. Crowe, as well as the likes of Gary Waldrep and James Monroe. He formed his own band in 2008, after a break from music to raise a family and make a living. His current band is populated with members of his family and long-time music friends. I look forward to seeing him for the first time.
Williamson Branch (Fri & Sat)
Phil Leadbetter, Richard Bennet & the Walker Brothers (Sat)
Williamson Branch is a family band which resides in Nashville, although they apparently travel widely on tour, with a heavy emphasis on singing in churches and local venues.
Phil Leadbetter, Richard Bennet & the Walker Brothers (Sat)
Phil Leadbetter and Richard Bennett have been touring together with the band Flashback, taking a look backward at the music of the great J.D. Crowe while contributing new and varied material to complement it. They are joined on this tour with two of Florida's most well-known and well-loved young musicians, the Walker Brothers, Cory and Jarrod. Phil Leadbetter has twice been named IBMA Dobro player of the year, while Richard Bennett is not nearly as well known as such a fine guitarist and singer should be. You'll enjoy this show!
South Country Classic
Photo by Bill Warren
South Country Classic is an occasional band put together by Ernie Evans at festivals and on cruises made up of musicians available to play classic seventies and eighties country music at his festivals and on cruises. Often, when musicians in other bands playing a festival are available they are invited to the stage to join in the fun.
Penny Creek comes from Melbourne, FL where they are the house band at a couple of local venues. The band's been playing at bluegrass festivals around the state for several years, while improving its lineup and becoming ever tighter with each change of personnel. This is an entertaining and enjoyable band.Penny Creek - Sunny Side of the Mountain
Evans Media Source festivals have take a new and innovative perspective to producing a festival, turning it from a three day performance-based extravaganza focusing almost solely on the stage shows, into a five day event modeled on the activities of a cruise. Each day, beginning when rigs arrive at the festival site, there are scheduled activities. Ernie Evans recently hired an activities director to broaden the activities, encourage more people to participate, and ensure that all are having a good time.
Larry Gillis Classic Country Show
Jam in the Pavilion
Stage Show Noon - until....
Children's Activities featuring Williamson Branch for Kids
Sunday Morning Gospel Sing
Jo Odum - Festival Emcee
The Florida Classic Park is a large facility located near Brooksville, FL just off I-75. It was built primarily for dog shows, but is used for a variety of events. The Florida Bluegrass Classic is entering its fourth year in this park, which is well-adapted for music festival uses, with plenty of water & electric hookups, room for jams, a covered pavilion, flush toilets, and a portable shower facility. Since water pressure is low, I recommend you either arrive at the park with full tanks, or fill your fresh water tank on arrival and then disconnect from the standpipe.
Under the Pavilion
Tickets: You can purchase tickets by ordering online or calling Evans Media Source at (904) 886-8378. A range of day ticket and full-festival prices is available here. A range of food and craft vendors is available to provide good choices. Of course, many people who attend bluegrass festivals are also RVers, and eating at your rig, joining together to eat with each other, or attending the Wednesday evening covered dish supper are all recommended option. A number of restaurants of varying price and quality are available nearby, as are motel facilities. A special rate is available at the nearby Days Inn if you mention the festival.
Scrumptious Spread for Covered Dish Supper
How to Get to Florida Classic Park
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Evans Media Source has become known to its customers for providing a full-featured musical experience at each of its varied festivals. The environment is friendly and welcoming. The music at each festival has a somewhat different flavor and vibe, with the Florida Bluegrass Classic leaning more towards the classic country sound, while still providing plenty of bluegrass music. The festival environment will provide newcomers as well as those already quite familiar with the music a delightful experience. You'll feel welcome and have a wonderful time. Looking to see you there.
Greg Bird - Karaoke and Evening Host
Jo Odum - Festival Emcee
Monday, January 15, 2018
This year's edition of the Palatka Bluegrass Festival features six, count them, five bands that have been named as IBMA Entertainer of the Year and five that have been Vocal Group of the Year: The Gibson Brothers, Dailey & Vincent, The Earls of Leicester, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Balsam Range, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, and Flatt Lonesome. Rarely does a festival lineup represent so much pure musical and entertainment power. Here's the Lineup:
The Gibson Brothers (Fri & Sat)
The last eight Gibson Brothers CD's have reached and spent months at the top of the Bluegrass Unlimited charts. Their song writing, singing, and between the songs brotherly humor has become known from coast to coast as well as across the pond. This year they will be appearing at every Norman Adams festival, carving out a unique and special role.
My Quiet Mind
Jerry Douglas & the Earls of Leicester (90 Minute Show, Sat)
Jerry Douglas & the Earls of Leicester play Flatt & Scruggs the way it sounded over fifty years ago with the advantage of having modern sound systems to reach out to any audience. Composed of some of Nashville's finest and most successful musicians, they've been IBMA Entertainer of the Year for past three years.
Dailey & Vincent (90 Minute Show, Fri)
With their fast-paced, high concept mixture of traditional bluegrass, gospel music, and patriotic fervor, Dailey & Vincent have revolutionized bluegrass, bringing it to new audiences in arts centers, auditoriums, and stadiums across the country. They've been a favorite at Palatka since the year they first appeared.
Rhonda Vincent & the Rage (Thu)
Rhonda Vincent & the Rage have been Palatka favorites since the beginning, too. Rhonda brings her characteristic energy, charisma, and willingness to stay at her merchandise table until the last fan has had at least a few moments of her time is legendary. She's one of the hardest working and best loved musicians in bluegrass. Her band is strong at every position, filled with pickers who are names on their own.
Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Balsam Range (Fri)
Balsam Range has specialized in bringing big sound, a wall of sound, to the bluegrass stage. With four singers, they can create huge versatility with music ranging from classic bluegrass to bluegrass versions of southern rock along with deeply felt gospel music. Their stage show adds to the fun.
Burning Georgia Down
Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out (Fri)
Touring hard and singing great has characterized Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out for more than twenty-five years. One of the great musical ensembles in bluegrass history, they've maintained touch with tradition while adding new dimensions and great songs to the bluegrass vocabulary. Russell Moore continues to exhibit one of the great all-time voices.
Gentle On My Mind
Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers (Thu)
Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers come by their name honestly, as Joe's father built a network of radio stations in the Dayton/Cincinnati area of south central Ohio, where large numbers of refugees from Appalachia settled to find industrial work. His band brings traditional bluegrass with classic Scruggs style banjo and first rate singing to the stage and is welcome wherever they go. Joe is also serving a term as Chairman of the IBMA Board of Directors.
Now, The Summer's Gone
Flatt Lonesome (Th)
Flatt Lonesome has come a long way since we first saw them fresh out of Callahan Florida at Newell Lodge, a small venue in the piney woods of South Georgia just a few miles north of their home. They've been recognized for their singing at IBMA and have developed a national reputation while working hard to develop greater versatility and continually raise their quality.
You're The One
Dry Branch Fire Squad (Fri & Sat)
Ron Thomason is bluegrass music's resident humorist in the style of the great Will Rogers or perhaps Garrison Keillor. He claims he can't tell a joke, but he sure can tell funny stories with a hook that gets a listener thinking as well as laughing. Ron's professional career started as a Clinch Mountain Boy with Ralph Stanley and went downhill from there. Dry Branch Fire Squad has merely been singing its unique brand of raw early bluegrass and old-time music while providing a strong backdrop for Thomason's story telling for over forty years. They'll be at Palatka for four sets t his year.
Fifty Miles of Elbow Room (with Intro)
The Little Roy & Lizzy Show (Sat)
With the recent passing of Miggie Lewis, Little Roy is the last performing member of the Lewis Family Band that came to prominence as a gospel band based in Georgia beginning in 1951 at a Woodmen of the World meeting. They recorded and appeared on television in Augusta. They started extensive touring in the early sixties, with Little Roy bringing his baggy pants comedy, harkening back to vaudeville days, to their upbeat gospel performances. Lizzy Long, Little Roy's adopted daughter, has been performing with him as his foil and protege for about fifteen years. The Lewis Family was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
The Moron Brothers (Sat)
The Moron Brothers, an unfortunate name for these more enlightened times, bring a more deadpan kind of humor to bluegrass festivals everywhere. There songs, many of which they write, reflect the stereotype of the Hillbilly with a wry twist that shows them clearly making fun of themselves and the stereotype. Enjoy their wit and wisdom!
Uncle Ben Swallowed His Teeth
The Bluegrass Brothers (Thu)
In many ways, The Bluegrass Brothers are a bluegrass picker's dream. They sing traditional bluegrass with lusty good humor and sincere emotion, reflecting their Virginia rural upbringing and solid professionalism, developed over the years. Legend has it they emerged from family jams and their popularity spread after they composed a campaign theme song for the gubernatorial run of Mark Warner. Their enthusiastic good humor is popular at many festivals.
Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road (Fri)
Lorraine Jordan comes from the North Carolina lowlands in the eastern part of the state. She has carefully built her band as a traditional one, with Josh Goforth on guitar and Benny Greene on guitar helping lead the way. She has indefatigably worked to raise funds for needy musicians. As a founder of the Ladies of Bluegrass, she has worked to see that women grassers receive recognition for their excellence. Her album won a Recorded Event of the Year award from IBMA. More recently, she has recognized and developed the relationship between country music and bluegrass, releasing an album with several country music greats that emphasized what she re-named Country Grass.
Boogie Grass Band
Amanda Cook & Kennesaw Ridge (Sat)
Amanda Cook has been developing her band for about ten years, starting as a traditional bluegrass band with her Dad in Florida and moving towards the country/pop end of bluegrass, as her web site indicates. This is her first performance at Palatka and the first time we seen her in several years, so I look forward to her shows.
One Stop Along the Road
Penny Creek (Fri)
Penny Creek, from Melbourne FL, has been forging a regional reputation at festivals and in local venues for several years. Band leader Susan Garrett Pounds has worked ceaselessly and successfully to build the quality and range of her band. The addition of Chris Paganoni on Guitar and vocals and Fritz Kraemer of mandolin and vocals has strengthened the band. I look forward to hearing the latest member, John Apfelthaler on banjo. Penny Creek is a good story of a serious local band continuing to work and develop.
No Words to Describe
Rodeheaver Boys Ranch
It's completely fitting that Rodeheaver Boys Ranch should host a major bluegrass festival as one of its fund-raising activities. Homer Rodeheaver, a famous evangelist, served as music director for evangelist Billy Sunday as well as having as significant career as a writer of gospel music, band leader, and music publisher. He founded the Ranch in 1950 as a home for abandoned and abused boys. The mission has remained much the same through the decades, as the Ranch provides a haven for boys who cannot, for one reason or another, live at home. About fifty boys live on the ranch in homelike settings with house parents. They attend local public schools and do chores on the Ranch. During the festival they are much in evidence, working and listening to the music. A new museum near the performance shed tells the story of Homer Rodeheaver and the Ranch he founded.
The campground pictured below was built to accommodate an almost unlimited number of RV's with water and electric hookups. Honey wagons are available for pump-out, when needed. Camping sites must be arranged through the ranch, and are separate from the price of tickets.
Campsites: Call the Boys Ranch at (386) 328-1281 - There's plenty of overflow non-hookup space if the hookups are sold out.
Additional Accommodations are available nearby. Here's a link to them.
The snack bar and gift shop are located directly behind the performance shed. Hot dogs, hamburgers, home-baked cookies and brownies, and the best Brunswick Stew you ever tasted are sold at the snack bar, while the gift shop features souvenirs and sponsors an annual used book sale. A vendors area stands to the side with additional food and craft vendors.
The performance shed provides a covered venue that accommodates the crowd, protecting them from adverse weather, when it occurs.
You can order tickets online here or call at (706)864-7203. There is reserved seating under the Pavilion, and some reserve seats may be available.
Additional Helpful Information
How to Get to the Palatka Bluegrass Festival
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The Palatka Bluegrass Festival is one of the finest festivals in the southeast, a gem for a winter festival. Supporting a worthy cause and run in a first rate, professional manner by Norman Adams, a legendary bluegrass promoter and the staff and boys of the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, this is a must attend event. See you there!