BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters annual Winter Train show at the Ted Blum 4-H Center, on Milltown Road, is being held Jan. 27 and 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children under 12 years old. Children under the age of 2 years old are free. Admission pays for entry to all areas of the show. The Trainmasters will be awarding a $50 prize each day in a free drawing for adult attendees who complete a boarding pass by visiting the various vendors throughout the center. The first 20 children through the doors each day will also receive a free prize.
The Trainmasters’ 40-by-60-foot layout will be on display and continuously running throughout the event. Multiple trains will run across thousands of feet of track simultaneously through numerous scenery displays. The scenery represents a range of styles — each created by different members of the club, from traditional landscapes and buildings, to designs incorporating robotics, to possibly even scenery made of LEGO blocks and MINECRAFT.
The club has an expansive collection of O-scale trains, including THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE and THE POLAR EXPRESS, as well as rare and classic trains. There will be interactive play activities for younger children, as well as craft activities, and small animals from the Somerset County 4-H People Pick Me-Ups club to pet to keep siblings occupied.
Concessions will be available for purchase each day of the show, from snacks to a full lunch. A seating area will be offered to enjoy some time off your feet.
Once again, over 60 vendors and crafters are registered to be a part of the two-day event selling a variety of items for the whole family including train related items for railroading enthusiasts. Childrens’ authors Frank McSorley and Ken Lefkowitz, along with authors’ Auzuka Zuke Obi and Carona Davis-Diop are all returning to the Trainmasters event with book signings. From typical vendors found at events such as LuLaRoe and Scentsy, to more unique vendors like Croft Metal Signs, Handmade Knits, Soaps, Paintings, Slimes, and Pet Treats, there will be something for everyone young and old!
According to Bill Quick of Flemington, an 8th year Trainmasters club leader, “We are very excited to once again have vendors and crafters at our annual Winter Train Show. This addition has been a huge success to our annual Winter shows! We have had record breaking attendance the past few years and we're anticipating a big crowd again this year.”
Head Trainmaster leader Jim Wood of Bridgewater said, “Please come out and enjoy the fun! This event is one way we are able to give back to our train enthusiasts about the enjoyment of the hobby. Most train hobbyists have gotten older and we are trying to perpetuate the hobby with the younger generation.”
Members of the 4-H Trainmasters range in age from fourth-graders to one year out of high school. The Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters Club currently has over 30 members from Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset, and Warren Counties. It was the first youth-led model railroad club in the state when it formed in 2000 with six kids.
Wood said Trainmasters club members complete annual projects based on their involvement in 4-H. First-year members complete their module used in the shows, while Second-Year members complete a landscaping project. Third-Year members complete a Kit assembly and design while Fourth-Year members add Lighting to a kit structure or rolling stock car. Fifth-Year members complete a scratch built structure, and then after the fifth year, Senior Members work on a variety of projects.
The Black River & Western Railroad, stationed in Ringoes, will be making their debut appearance at the Trainmasters annual winter show with a display as well as information and schedules for their operations. The Black River & Western Railroad has served local industry in the Flemington area of Hunterdon County since acquiring former Penn Central Jersey Central Lines in the 1970s.
The Metropolitan Division of the Train Collectors Association (METCA) will be returning to the Winter Show to continue to expand their youth division and to promote and keep the hobby alive. Kevin Quinn, METCA President states “The Metropolitan Division of the Train Collectors Association (TCA) is very proud to have the Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters operate as our kid’s club. The kids represent the very foundation of TCA, 4-H and our hobby. I highly recommend a visit to their winter train show and check out their magnificent train layout!”
METCA is made up from 20 counties in three states, NJ, NY, and CT, building friendships through collecting and operating model trains. Free METCA youth memberships will be available at the event on both days for children up to 18 years of age.
Also returning to the annual winter show is the New York Society of Model Engineers (NYSME), along with New Jersey Operation Lifesaver with important safety information to remember when around trains and train tracks.
Proceeds from the annual winter train show support the Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters’ College Fund, support of the 4-H Association, and other club activities. Each year the Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters Club awards a $1,000 scholarship to a graduating Senior who is a member in good standing of any Somerset County 4-H club that will pursue a course of study in the field of Science, and sends a club member to the National Railway Historical Society rail camp each summer.
The Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters facebook event is at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1601211349918315. The Trainmasters club’s website, www.trainmasters.sc4-h.org, also contains additional information, especially in the event of inclement weather. For directions to the show, please visit somerset.njaes.rutgers.edu/directions. For additional information, contact the Somerset County 4-H office at 908-526-6644. We hope to see you there!