For the very first time, the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum will have representatives at the Florida Strawberry Festival spreading the word about the hidden gem in Plant City.
One of Plant City’s greatest treasures, the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum, will now be represented at the Florida Strawberry Festival.
The museum, which is nestled in the heart of downtown at 102 N. Palmer St., has drawn innumerable guests to town over the years. Between its impressive museum inventory and the viewing platform across the tracks that allows viewers to witness trains as they cross the double diamond, it has received countless praises over the years and is a shining asset to downtown.
However, many who attend the festival never wander outside of its grounds and thus miss all the other things that make the city so unique.
Eric Barber, president of the Robert Willaford Railroad Museum Society, said the group hopes its presence at the festival will act as a catalyst toward changing that trend.
“Our role is to curate and run the museum and help it grow and continue to be an anchor for the community,” Barber said. “The reality is that a lot of people that go to the festival don’t know what else is around here. They don’t know about our downtown or about the museum. We’re hoping to kind of change that.”
The group will be located in the main exhibition hall at booth number 73. Those who stop to chat will be given a temporary tattoo specially designed by the museum and have the opportunity to pick up a leaflet to learn more about the depot downtown.
Though this is their first time at the festival, they’ve gone above and beyond decorating the space and are sure to leave a lasting impact on those who stroll through the hall. An authentic train crossing arm acts as the entrance to the booth and there is a crossbuck, a dwarf signal, an N Scale model train, several photographs and a video about the museum all nestled into the booth.
What many fail to realize is that without the train, there would be no Plant City. Yes, the strawberry is what the town is known for, but the train helped bring the city to life and played a key role in shipping its produce to areas across the nation. You can learn all about the history of Henry B. Plant bringing the railroad to town and uniting the local communities at the museum along with a variety of other interesting facts. The museum is also curated with artifacts rarely seen anywhere else in the world.
It is also the only place in the southeast the public can witness a double diamond crossing, where two sets of tracks cross at an intersection. There’s always people lingering about the area with cameras at the ready as they wait to record the crossing.
The booth at the festival will be manned all day and night and the museum itself will be open during normal business hours. You can learn more about the museum at willafordrailroadmuseum.com.