The Train Song Festival will be a little different this year, thanks to a new, hands-on approach.
Though traditionally held in October, this year the Train Song Festival will be held noon – 8 p.m. Saturday, April 28, in part to help spread out community events through the year.
“We used this opportunity to revamp the event to have a theme,” said David Richards, recreation supervisor at Old Poway Park.
While historically the festival has always revolved around trains and singing, Richards and the other organizers wanted the new and improved Train Song Festival to be more hands-on and interactive, rather than it being more like a concert as it was in the past. “We wanted the visitors to move from observers to participants,” said Richards. In accordance with the theme of Old Poway Park, which is a Victorian-era style, the new theme of the Train Song Festival is that of the end of the industrial era, the Age of Steam. “[The festival will feature] everything cool that you can imagine from the turn of the century,” Richards said. “It’s nothing like we’ve ever done at Old Poway Park before.”
There will be a variety of steam engines available for viewing and riding, everything from small, ride-on steam engines from the Chula Vista Live Steamers to Old Cantankerous itself, the Poway Midland Railroad’s 1907 Baldwin Steam Engine, which will be running through 8 p.m. for a nominal fee.
The Poway Midland Railroad will also have all their equipment on display behind the train barn, for viewing purposes, and they will be unveiling their newest piece of equipment, a cable car they are in the process of restoring. Though the cable car won’t be available for riding until summer, those interested can check out how the restoration is going, which Richards describes as “substantially complete.”
Just because this year’s festival has a theme of steam, it doesn’t mean that the old west fun has been abandoned. Two groups of bandits will be roaming the park, robbing trains and staging gunfights. The Apache Canyon Gang will be performing from noon – 4 p.m., with the Shadow River Regulators taking over from 4 – 8 p.m.
“One of the hidden treasures of this event is the nighttime spectacle gunfights,” said Richards, as the muzzle flashes will be highly visible once dusk starts to set in.
There will be a number of static displays as well, everything from a Model-A car to steam tractors from the Vista Antique Gas and Steam Museum. Elaborate model train sets will also be available for viewing.
As for the song part of the festival, an entire frontier music camp will be set up, complete with tent and eating area, where 25 different instruments will be available for kids to play with and discover a love of music, with instruction on the instruments also offered.
There will be a vendor fair at the festival as well, with the Boardwalk Craft Market selling their wares. Food will also be on sale, with Hamburger Factory selling barbecue sandwiches and the Girl Scouts selling hot dogs, among other things. There will also be train vendors selling model train equipment.
“We recruited as many train vendors as possible to attract serious collectors as well as families,” said Richards.
A tintype photographer will be out in the park taking pictures, and historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt, as well as Victorian and Steampunk characters roaming the park as well.
“We’re developing and strengthening the theme,” said Richards. “It’s up there with An Old Fashioned 4th of July and Christmas in the Park.”