Ride a real train pulled by a diesel engine and then watch model trains, including Thomas and Friends™ train cars, at New Hope Valley Railway’s (NHVR) Garden Railroad Festival on Sunday, August 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Garden model railroad trains are built to represent real trains and NHVR’s garden railroad features tunnels, bridges, plants, trees, houses, churches and its own engine house. There are multiple tracks for several trains to run simultaneously on more than 1000 feet of miniature track.

Photo by Charlie Peek.

Joe Austin, a 73-year-old garden railfan and member of the North Carolina Garden Railroad Society, will bring four of his Thomas and Friends™ model cars to operate on NHVR’s garden model railroad track during the event. They include Thomas #1 with Annie and Clarabel; Percy #6 (the small engine) with assorted Troublesome Trucks; James #5 (the red engine) “Ice Cream Train” with Milk Tanker, Cream Tanker, Raspberry Syrup Tanker and two Ice Cream wagons; and Toby #7 “Vintage Train” with Henrietta, Victoria and Elsie.

Trains are reminiscent of Austin’s childhood growing up in St. Louis. He received his first Lionel model trains from Santa at age five and says model trains have always been his favorite toy. Most simply, he says he enjoys watching them go around.

Austin will be at the Garden Railroad Festival on August 13 to monitor his trains and interact with visitors and fans of garden railroading. Visitors can purchase tickets online here.

Diesel trains depart at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. and model trains will operate in the garden railroad for the duration of the ride day. Tickets cost $10/adults, $9/seniors (ages 60+) and $7/children (ages 2-12, under 2 is free).

NHVR’s food vendor Chef’s House will serve roasted pork loin with a mango chutney and a choice of two sides (whipped garlic mashed potatoes, country home fries, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, choice of assorted cookies and chips); hot dog combos with choice cookies and chips; or the NHVR Engineers Breakfast made up of cheesy scrambled eggs, Applewood bacon or country sausage and home fried potatoes. Six flavors of hand-dipped premium ice cream and toppings will also be available for $2 per scoop.