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Annual Ashland train day returns this weekend

Annual Ashland train day returns this weekend
Posted at 8:36 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 20:36:24-04

ASHLAND, Va. -- All roads lead to Ashland this weekend for an annual street festival where one train store owner is like a kid in a candy store.

Suzanne Hemingway is the owner of Tiny Tim's Trains and Toys in Ashland.

"Yes, I am related. I have no fame, no fortune and no despondent alcoholics in the family. I laugh and call myself the geek daughter," Hemingway said.

As longtime volunteers of Ashland Train Day, Hemingway and her son are regulars with train layouts.

Hemingway lives, talks and loves trains.

"My brother got trains, I played with them. I think that was the 60s for a whole lot of us. But anything with a motor is just a whole lot of fun," Hemingway said. "Anything related to the kids. And I think we've done so much for mental health for everyone."

Even the store's name was inspired by a children's book.

"Dickens Christmas Carol is kind of the story behind the shop and my son was Tiny Tim at Randolph Macon College when he was five," Hemingway said. "And Dickens has a quote, 'for it's good to be children sometimes'. I think that's true for everyone."

Hemingway's fascination with trains would make Charles Dickens and Tiny Tim proud.

"In one window, I could have Christmas past in another window. I could have Christmas future. But if you come through my doors, it's Christmas present," Hemingway said.

The store is a treasure trove for train enthusiasts, packed with model trains and other things.

"Every game that I play, I think of my autistic kids. I think of my really smart kids. I think of families. I think of seniors who don't have the same skill levels. And I handpick every toy for durability and eco-friendly too," Hemingway said. "It provides connectivity, it enables conversation and learning when they don't even know they're learning and or including when they don't even know they were included."

With Ashland Train Day, everyone is invited. The all-volunteer celebration of trains started in the library. Now, thousands are expected to arrive at Center Street.

"We'll have at least 12 trains go through in the six hours of the event. They'll be blowing the horn and they'll be waving to participants. They'll also just be going slow for safety," Maggie Longest, the executive director for the Downtown Ashland Association, said.

Ashland Train Day is a day of entertainment with food, shopping, the VMFA Art Mobile, a free scavenger hunt and train rides for all ages.

Ashland Train Day will be on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.