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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Plant City’s Railfest not derailed by weather

PLANT CITY — Chilly, wet weather didn’t put the brakes on Railfest this weekend.

Families brought their children out to the railroad museum at 102 N. Palmer St. for train rides, live music and a scavenger hunt inside the Union Depot.

Railfest, which began Friday evening and continued all day Saturday, celebrated the city’s railroad history. About 600 people stopped by the two-day festival, which organizers hope will become an annual tradition in downtown Plant City, said Deanna Hurley, the city’s special events manager.

The event included live bands and children’s activities and paid homage to H.B. Plant, the city’s namesake and the man responsible for bringing the railroad through the area in the 1880s.

During the festival, officials dedicated the old train depot in honor of retired engineer R.W. “Bob” Willaford, who donated a retired caboose and his extensive railroad memorabilia collection — valued at $220,000 — to the city. The festival also marked the completion of a new train viewing platform just across the tracks from the old station.

“The railroad is just a vital part of our history,” Hurley said. “It’s exciting that we’ve been able to add to our downtown landscape and honor our heritage.”

Hurley was worried the festival turnout would suffer because of bad weather, but she was pleased with the number of people who came, she said. And so many local businesses wanted to sponsor the festival that she couldn’t get all of them on the program, she said.

Hurley expects next year’s Railfest will be even bigger, she said.

To find out more about Plant City Union Depot and train viewing platform, visit www.plantcity gov.com.

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Twitter: @LizBehrmanTBO

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