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Holston Camp and Retreat Center Brings Second Annual Wildcat Lake Festival to the High Country, Aug. 12

By Katie Benfield 

On Saturday, August 12, the Holston Presbytery Camp and Retreat Center in Banner Elk will be offering the High Country community two events that can provide fun for the whole family.

At 9 a.m. on that Saturday at the Lake Lyons Pavilion located at the Lake Lyons entrance to the camp on Hickory Nut Gap Rd., there will be a Wildcat 5K Trail Run/Hike that will travel throughout the Holston Center campus. Through this 3.1 mile long trail run or hike, participants will be able to see many of the most memorable facets of the camp, such as The Treehouse, Gilmer Woods, Rustic Campsites, Worship Point and Wildcat Lake. It costs $20 to run in the race for adults and $15 for kids 12 and under. 


“People can run it or walk it, whatever they are comfortable with,” Jim Austin, Director of the Holston Camp and Retreat Center, said. “It meanders through our campus which is 150 acres or so, and they will get to see all of the features of our camp while they are completely the 5K.”

Later on that same there, the second annual Wildcat Lake Music Festival will begin at 2 p.m. and end at 10 p.m. with headliner Charlyhorse with Chuck Johnson, an alternative country rock Americana band.Along with Chuck Johnson and Charlyhorse, there will be other bands performing as well, including Swing Set, Clint Roberts and The Groove Inc. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 6-12 years old.

Admission to the festival includes use of beautiful Wildcat Lake including swimming, canoes, kayaks and fishing. Horseshoes, Bocci Ball and Cornhole are available for play as well as kids races and games. Local food truck vendors Carolina Bar-B- Q from Newland and Fast Eddies Hot Dogs and Hamburgers of Beech Mountain will provide refreshments. Sorry, no alcohol will be served. “Billy C.” will be the master of ceremonies and will keep the action moving at Wildcat Lake.

“We will be putting a large stage in front of the lake in a big grassy area, and everyone is welcome to bring blankets and lawn chairs,” Austin said. “There will be food vendors and games and activities for kids and the whole family, like swimming, boating, fishing, horseshoes and bocce ball.”


The proceeds from both the music festival and the 5K will go toward benefitting the Holston Summer Camp, an outdoor traditional small group camp with two cabins that hold 14 kids and 2 counselors.

“We look at this summer program as a transformation experience for kids that provides them with the opportunity to unplug from their electronic devices, meet some new friends, make some new relationships and be outdoors,” Austin said.

Along with this, Austin emphasized that the camp also helps the campers learn about nature and Christian love and how each of the campers can try and practice that love with each other and everyone they come to meet.

“The music festival provides the Banner Elk and surrounding communities with the opportunity to just come out here and see what we have to offer,” Austin said, “as well as providing a family oriented activity.”

The Holston Presbytery Camp and Retreat Center was started in 1955 and is open year-round, even when summer camp isn’t in session. The Center acts as a venue for a variety of different activities and events.

“We are open year round for church retreats, family reunions, ski groups, boy or girl scout groups, college kids,” Austin said. “We have the proper facilities for a variety of different groups and events.”

The Wildcat Music Festival and Wildcat 5K Trail Run/Hike are supported and made possible by Mountain Community Bank and Eagles Nest Realty.

For more information about the music festival or the 5K, visit the Holston Camp and Retreat Center website.