Two festivals are planned for later this year at Lost Hill Lake Events, now that a conditional use permit was approved Tuesday night at the Franklin County Planning and Zoning meeting.

The conditional use permit was unanimously approved by the planning commission for the venue, located near St. Clair, to host special occasions such as festivals, concerts, private retreats, camping and more. The events will be family-friendly.

The permit still requires a final vote by the Franklin County Commission.

Samantha Williford, owner of Lost Hill Lake Events, told The Missourian that for the past five years, the venue has only been rented for wedding events.

In 2017, the venue hosted its first public event in honor of the eclipse, she said.

“It was just incredible and granted Mother Nature gave us a really beautiful show,” Williford said.

“It just opened our minds up for different possibilities that we were kind of scared to do and we just didn’t really know anything about. It’s just a whole different world of a private event versus a public one.”

Last July, Lost Hill Lake Events held a bluegrass music festival called Pickin’ On Picknic Bluegrass Music Festival where about 1,000 people attended, according to Williford.

“They just had an incredible lineup last year and a really great group of people,” she said.

“I wouldn’t have said that I was a bluegrass fan, but they are talented musicians and it’s fun to listen to outside.”

She added that the bluegrass festival was family- and pet-friendly and parents were comfortable with letting their children roam around the event.

“It kind of broke my stigma of what a festival kind of was,” Williford said. “Anytime you have kids and dogs, I feel like it’s a good event.”

The music festival was held under the venue’s 50-year-old walnut grove, where most of the wedding ceremonies are held, Williford said. In the 1970s, she said her dad planted about 200 black walnut trees.

“It is just this incredible shaded, manicured forest you’re in,” Williford said.

She added that there was enough space for a stage and people were not sitting in the sun. To continue hosting large events, Williford said the venue needed a permit required by the county.

Upcoming Events

Two events for later this year are already in the works. The first is a yoga, arts and music festival, or YAM Fest, set for May 17-19. Her business partner, Savanna Deluca, is a yoga instructor and has her master’s in mental health counseling.

“She is really into integrating nature and yoga, and mindfulness into your life,” Williford said.

She added that she is expecting 200-500 attendees.

“The YAM Fest is just something that I don’t feel like we see a lot of in this area, especially one hour outside of St. Louis.”

In July, the Pickin’ On Picknic Bluegrass Festival will take place again. Williford said she is expecting approximately 2,000 attendees.

In addition to events, people can now camp on the property. It is tent-based camping, according to Williford. Canvas tents with queen-sized beds with air conditioning will be offered.

She added that the canvas tents are great for those who love the outdoors, but who do not want to sleep on the ground and in the heat.

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