Hope Train Day Saturday held appeal for every age
Hope’s Train Day this past Saturday was a treat for all comers with a Kids Zone, box train races, mini-train rides and balloon animal-making for the young.  There were also dance performances, car shows and concerts for those of all ages. It was a fitting celebration of the town's founding.

The all-day Saturday event, which occurred in Hope’s downtown area, started at 9:00 a.m. with the opening of a Kids Zone that included a bouncy castle, an inflatable slide, a climbing wall and other amusements for children.  Participants in the rib-cooking contest set up awnings and smokers on South Main from Division to East Second. Dozens of cars and trucks from past and present lined the next block south, each polished to a pleasant gleam. Vendors also displayed offerings for sale at the Hub. 

Dancetastic Dancers took the stage at the intersection of South Main and Division at 10:00 a.m. Then at 11:30, about a dozen kids wearing their different creatively designed box trains raced one another for trophies down a stretch of Division Street as cameras flashed. 

The first musicians to perform were the Heather & Jase Duet from Texarkana. They are two members of the larger group Heather Linn and the Deacons.  Heather Linn sang originals and covers for about an hour with a big, supple voice to the accompaniment of Jase Bryant’s vocal harmonies and diverse electrical acoustic guitar settings. Bryant also took some turns singing lead.  Bryant the two have been in an act together for six years. He joked that their repertoire could best be described as “haphazard.” I’d more properly describe it as eclectic. Their songs ranged from rockabilly to torch songs to folk blues. 

At 1:30 p.m. Randall Eller, having driven down from his home in Sherwood, performed his magic show, weaving many illusions with newspapers, cards and other props. He also kept up a steady, witty patter and he worked the stage, making frequent use of participants from the audience. 

The Plowboys Car Club contest winners were announced.  It was a day for Chevys. The People’s Choice Award went to Steve Atkinson for his 1960 Chevy Apache. Best of Show went to Wayne Woodruff for his 1955 Chevy Belair.  The winner of the 2000 and newer category was Louis Johnson for his 2023 Chevy Corvette. 

Jay Kirgis took the stage at 3:00 p.m., performing a virtuosic series of songs from Delta Blues artists like Robert Johnson leavened with adaptations from the songbook of Stevie Ray Vaughan. 

The winners of the rib cookout were announced as Larry Moses and Lindsey Honea took first place, followed by Backyard Barbecue (Alex Rogers) at second and Lee and Sons (Brandon Lee) at third.

The closer was Spring Hill’s own Wyatt Putman, bringing a set of hard-charging Southern Rock tunes played by his quartet of instrumental firebrands. They played through a set of fresh songs from Putman’s new album My Kinda Country, that came out March 1st.. They all have huge hooks and ample space for the band to crunch and groove. 

Attendance at this year’s Train Day was down from last year, but those that came out were treated to much of the best the region has to offer.