St. Thomas, Ontario, April 23, 2015 … Iron Horse Festival organizers have signed an agreement with the Elgin County Railway Museum to hold the popular summer event at St. Thomas’ historic downtown rail lands for the next five years.
“This has to be one of the coolest festival sites anywhere,” said Paul Corriveau, president, Iron Horse Festival. “We’re right in the hub of what was one of the busiest commercial rail corridors in North America. We’re lucky to have it and we need to take advantage of this gem. It’s a big part of what makes St. Thomas the Railway City.”
The Elgin County Railway Museum (ECRM), which owns the 15-acre site at 225 Wellington Street adjacent to downtown St. Thomas, will allow the Iron Horse Festival to use the property for the four-day August festival in exchange for infrastructure improvements to pedestrian walkways, landscaping, site grading, and electrical and water services.
“We are very pleased to welcome the Iron Horse Festival to the Museum grounds,” said Jeremy Locke, president, ECRM. “Our property is a natural fit for a festival that celebrates our railway heritage. With the improvements that will be made to the site each year, the Festival will assist us in transforming our grounds into a prime festival location.”
The City of St. Thomas has historically been called the Railway City or the Railway Capital of Canada due to the numerous railroads that once ran through the area and their impact on population growth, the economy, and cultural development. In its railway heyday, 56 passenger and 85 freight trains ran through the city every day. Celebrities from Harry Houdini to Lucille Ball stopped at the Canada Southern Railway Station, located at the northern edge of the rail yards, as they travelled from Chicago to New York.
“Having a long-term site is a big step toward boosting the profile of the Festival and promoting the region’s rail history,” said Paul Corriveau. “It gives us the confidence to invest in the infrastructure needed to grow the Festival while keeping it in the heart of the city. It’s fun for residents, draws visitors and benefits local merchants and attractions.”
Celebrating its 21st anniversary, this year’s Iron Horse Festival is scheduled for August 20-23, 2015. The Festival site will also utilize city-owned land adjoining the rail yards. The Festival will feature new attractions in 2015 as well as live concerts, a midway, historical re-enactments, train rides, tours of the Elgin County Railway Museum, an artisan village, and Kids Junction. Details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Gene Nakonechny Dawn Miskelly