SOMERSET COUNTY 4-H TRAINMASTERS ANNUAL WINTER SHOW RETURNS
The Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters annual winter show is returning for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The annual Winter Train show at the Ted Blum 4-H Center, 310 Milltown Road, Bridgewater, NJ is being held on February 4th and 5th, from 10am-5pm both days. There will be vendors and crafters at the event, and the first 20 children through the doors each day will receive a free prize.
Admission is $4.00 for adults and $2.00 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 $50.00 prize each day in a free drawing for adult attendees who complete a Boarding Pass by visiting the various vendors throughout the center.
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, winter scenes, and scenery created by the Trainmasters’ imaginations.
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 to keep siblings occupied.
Concessions will be available for purchase each day of the show, from snacks to a full lunch. A seating area is offered to enjoy some time off your feet!
Many vendors and crafters are registered to be a part of the two-day event on both days, selling a variety of items for the whole family, including train related items for railroading enthusiasts. From typical vendors found at events such as LuLaRoe clothing, MaryKay cosmetics, and Color Street nails, to more unique vendors like Pony's Roadside Treasurers and various crafters selling their hand-made items, there will be something for everyone young and old!
Returning to the annual winter show is New Jersey Operation Lifesaver with important safety information to remember when around trains and train tracks on Saturday. The Black River & Western Railroad, stationed in Ringoes, will be returning to the Trainmasters annual winter show with a display, as well as information and schedules for their operations. The Black River & Western has been offering scenic train rides along a former Pennsylvania Railroad line out of Flemington, NJ since 1965 using vintage early 1900’s passenger car equipment and their 2-8-0 steam locomotive #60.
The Metropolitan Division of the Train Collectors Association (METCA) will also be returning to the Winter Show to continue to expand their youth division and to promote and keep the hobby alive. The Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters operate as METCA's kids' club. The Trainmasters represent the very foundation of TCA, 4-H, and the hobby. 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.
Head Trainmaster leader Jim Wood of Bridgewater says, “This event is fun for all ages, so please come out and support our Trainmasters club! Through this event, we are able to give back to our train enthusiasts about the enjoyment of the hobby. Most train hobbyists are older now, and so our club is 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. More than twenty years later, there is only one (1) additional 4-H model railroad club in the state.
Jim Wood informs that 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 5th year, Senior Members work on a variety of projects.
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/519495853568998/. The Trainmasters club’s website, www.trainmasters.sc4-h.org, also contains additional information, especially in the event of inclement weather. There are no snow dates. 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!