The third annual Trains, Planes and Automobiles Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 8 throughout Willard. The family-friendly community festival previously was held as three separate events, however, Willard Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Ricky Branham said they wanted to create a large event that the whole city could celebrate together.
“We started this as a way to combine our other community events all into one event to make it a big community celebration day in city of Willard,” he said. “More and more people from Willard are coming, as well as people from out of town that come and travel in just for this.”
Local train displays, as well as several from out of town will be set up, including some special “Speeders,” which Branham said most know as the carts that were used in railways to transport workers on rail. There also will be close to 100 historic cars and plenty of displays for plane enthusiasts as well, including a professional drone demonstration at Willard airport.
Branham said the car show will feature all divisions of vehicles, “from older to newer models, classics, trucks, motorcycles -—they’re all welcome.” However, the focus will be on the classic models.
The executive director said he’s glad the various events were brought together because it helps the community to flourish.
“It benefits the community economically because a lot of people come in to stay over night in a hotel, eat in our restaurants,” he said.
“It also benefits the community by building that family atmosphere we’ve been trying for, and that progressively we’ve been able to build,” Branham said. “These events are continuing to grow and it’s a good family, free event. To attend is free and it’s family-oriented. For the kids, (we will) have bounce houses and little train rides and they can get their picture taken (and) take train rides. It’s a lot of fun.”
The festival will offer plenty to eat as well. Last year the festival boasted barbecue beef, chicken, hot dogs, tacos and more, which Branham said they intend to bring back.
“We would be open to more vendors too if more interested in coming,” he added, saying those interested should contact the chamber offices by phone or email.
Other than a good time, Branham said the event demonstrates how Willard works together to accomplish a common goal.
“The other neat thing about this event is the chamber of commerce, along with sub-committee Willard Business Association, the city of Willard and train fest committee, make this event possible by working together with the same goal in mind for a family-friendly event to attract people,” he said.
“We’re all on the same team and working toward the same goals.”