History of Our Pavilions

Newly Constructed Youth Pavilion

Starting with a wood platform for a make shift stage, it was evident we needed a roof. One of our outstanding Sertoma members, Gilbert Turner (deceased) from the Seaport Sertoma Club, owned a ship repair company. In 1982, he donated labor and material to build the original pavilion which was a 100’ x 40’ pole barn. The stage was rebuilt; however we did not have a back drop or any kind of dressing rooms. A member from the founding Hillsborough Sertoma Club was able to obtain a display that had been used in the Floriland Mall (Busch Blvd. & Florida Ave). It was showing a barn door and country setting. It was perfect for a back drop and better yet, free. Another member from a club provided a flatbed truck to haul it to the ranch. A lot of strong backs put it in place. Dressing rooms were then added. A $5,000 donation was made from the North Tampa Lord Mayors Association. Back in the day, people would bring their own small wood platforms to the festivals so they would have something to dance on. A lot of clogging went on!

For 30 years, this pavilion hosted many youth activities and special events. Despite good care, the roof structure was badly rusted and the wood pilings showed structural decay.

“Raise the Roof” Campaign for a New Pavilion


Our 8000 sq. ft. Pavilion

In the summer of 2012, the Sertoma Youth Ranch board approved building a new pavilion and formed a building committee. Design and amounts were determined. Heritage Buildings Systems, a pre-fab steel building, was selected. A “Raise The Roof” campaign was started to raise additional funds. Folks came through, but it was evident that we needed a loan if we were to start construction immediately. A few phone calls later and the Seaport Sertoma Club was convinced to loan the Ranch $70,000 to get the project going. The Seaport Club, Tampa East Club, and Broken String Fling also put up over $15,000 for the stage and a hearing loop system. With financing in place, the building was ordered and delivered in August 2012 with Lind Construction accepted as General Contractor. October 3rd, we had final inspection and by October 18th, the new pavilion was completed. Exciting times for the Ranch, it’s members, and the thousands of children who use the Ranch.

Details of pavilion:

Heritage Building System – 120’ x 65’ w with a 16’ eave height, all steel structure with insulated ceiling for sound definition

  • Concrete floor
  • Elevated stage – 24’ x 40’
  • Enclosed staging area or green room – 15’ x 60’
  • Audio induction loop system – Allows sound to be transmitted to the hearing impaired clearly and free of other distracting noise in the environment. It delivers pure sound directly to t-coil equipped hearing aids or cochlear implants for the best listening experience.
  • Lighting – permanent par 64 can stage lighting
  • Electric panels ­– all new
  • Capacity – 550 folding chairs

Naming Rights of New Pavilion

Opportunities for naming our new pavilion are still available. Your name or your company’s name can be proudly displayed. Please inquire by calling the Ranch or email info@sertomayouthranch.org

History of Soggy Bottom Pavilion and Bluegrass Bunch

NOTE: This article was written about 15 years ago, and has appeared in previous issues of the Paper Jam for the benefit of our many new members. It has been updated by the authors with minor changes to condense and simplify it, but the facts comprising the history remain unchanged.



Soggy Bottom T-shirt

The earliest roots of what became the SBBB go back to 1983, or maybe even 1982, to a group of folks who attended bluegrass festivals and enjoyed camping. Some of these folks were pickers and others were grinners. In their weekend camping and festival activities they met each other and were joined by new folks along the way. They began to meet for weekends of pickin’ and grinnin’ at a number of different places and, not surprisingly, the “Soggy Bottom” name originated after a rain-drenched weekend. There are varying recollections of several different places where the Club took root and a half dozen or so folks who believe they originated the name. What we know of the name was in use by the fall of 1983 and the Club began collecting membership dues in 1984, which we consider the Club’s founding date.

From the early years, the Club’s purpose was to support bluegrass music and that still remains today. In addition, the Club’s motto has always been “Good Friends, Good Food, Good Music, Good Fun! As we can all tell from the monthly Camp-Ins, the groaning sideboards, pickin’ and grinnin’, socializing, card/dice games, and crafting, the motto remains alive and well.

The faithful attendance of bluegrass festivals by many SBBBers, their ticket and CD purchasing, and other money spent at festivals, certainly supports bluegrass music.

"In 1986, the Club built the SBBB pavilion and donated it to the Ranch."

“In 1986, the Club built the SBBB pavilion and donated it to the Ranch.”

The early selection of the Sertoma Youth Ranch as the Club’s home base has supported that noble organization’s efforts on behalf of youth groups such as the Boy Scouts, special-need kids and adults, underprivileged kids, etc. This support has been accomplished through a steady flow of monthly camping fees, Sertoma festival attendance, outright donations to Sertoma, and in 1986, the Club built the SBBB pavilion – a 32’ x 50’ plus a 22’ x 12 ‘ fire pit slab – and donated it to the Ranch. Additionally, the Club has spent thousands of dollars over the years improving and maintaining this pavilion. Major improvements have been the addition of the concrete floor, the roll-down doors, and of the storage rooms along the south side.

For years, through the appropriate Pasco County agency, the Club has anonymously provided Christmas for a couple of area working, in need families, especially for their children. We have also donated Afghans, yarn and money to Boggy Creek, a camp for seriously ill kids. And on occasion we have donated to organizations such as the Salvation Army, in addition to Sertoma. These are efforts that all SBBB’ers can be proud of.

In the past, the Club also provided donations to individual members who had come upon hard times. This was surely an admirable effort, but was discontinued due to the impossibility of being able to afford or to fairly administer that effort, once the Club had grown to hundreds of members. Additionally, since our Incorporation in 1996, our charter specifically prohibits disbursing SBBB funds to any individual. In 1996 the Club incorporated as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of Florida.


SBBB pavilion interior

And isn’t it terrific?!! We get together monthly, rarely less than 50 people, and occasionally over 300 at the Annual Birthday Hog Roast. There are people of all ages, from every walk of life, and with diverse interests. We consistently have (with only the most minor of occasional exceptions) nothing but mutual respect, fellowship and good will! And “Good Friends, Good Food, Good Music, Good Fun”!

So, to each of you who was there in ’83-’84 who were the nucleus of this terrific club, wherever and whenever it was actually born, and regardless of who first said “Soggy Bottom”— to each of you all the rest of us say “Well Done Friends, and Thanks”!

Written by:
Bob “Obie” Oberlin & Dick Adams