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Frankton Thunder 2024: Glenbrook Vintage Railway the steamy star of Hamilton event

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The Glenbrook Vintage Railway is going to be part of Frankton Thunder 2024. Photo / Andrea Davis

It’s full steam ahead for Frankton Thunder as the event gets ready to rumble this weekend.

As part of this, Hamilton’s suburb of Frankton will see a rail revival with the Glenbrook Vintage Railway making a special appearance and offering trips to Ruakura and Huntly.

The annual car festival, first held in 2016, will return to Hamilton on March 10 and turn the area around Frankton’s Commerce St into an outdoor motoring museum.

Frankton Thunder organising committee member Ken McGeady said while the event would include all the fan favourites, like the Miss Frankton Thunder pageant, the tattoo competition and the Thunder Cruise, there would also be some new additions.

“We’ve got a lot of new stuff, like a special Holden vs Ford [car] display and there will be a Show and Shine motorbike display.

“We also made some changes to Miss Frankton Thunder and opened it to the public. People will be able to enter [the pageant] on the day.”

There will be three categories: Thunder Tots of the Tron for under 18 boys and girls, who will take to the stage at 12pm, Miss Frankton Thunder for females aged 18-34 who will be on stage at 1pm and Queen of the Thunder for anyone aged 35 and over who will take the stage at 2pm.

There are prizes for the winner and runner-up of each competition. Sign-up for the pageant is next to the Kent St stage up until 30 minutes before each event.

Frankton Thunder will revv up in Hamilton on Sunday. Photo / Dean Taylor
Frankton Thunder will revv up in Hamilton on Sunday. Photo / Dean Taylor

Regarding this year’s special guest – the Glenbrook Vintage Railway – McGeady said: “Frankton used to be a train Mecca, so it’s cool to be able to bring it back.”

The first Frankton Thunder Steam Express trip with the Glenbrook Vintage Railway will depart from the Hamilton Railway Station in Frankton to Ruakura at 8.55am. The train arrives at Ruakura at 9.15am and returns to the Frankton station at 9.50am.

There will be four other travel times from Frankton to Ruakura and a River Steam Rover trip from Frankton to Huntly and return, departing Frankton at 2.20pm, arriving in Huntly at 3.25pm and back at Frankton at 4.45pm.

Access to the Frankton station is off Queen’s Ave, via Fraser St. Tickets can be booked online.

Entrants into the Show and Shine motorbike display will have the chance to win some prizes, including best of the show, best Harley-Davidson and best custom motorbike. The judges for this are Paul and Nail from local band Devilskin.

Other features of the programme include a military vehicle display, live music, market stalls, a Steampunk display and the Repco Hot20, a vehicle competition that was first held last year and proved to be popular.

For the Hot20, the public had the chance to enter a vehicle – a car or a motorbike, a Steampunk machine, a military vehicle, Hotrod, basically anything that has wheels – that they think is world-class.

Entries for the competition have now closed and judges already selected the top 20 vehicles, which will now undergo further judging for the top spots at Frankton Thunder.

Also part of this year’s event is the LJ Hooker Frankton Thunder Cruise which will see motorbikes and cars of all shapes and sizes gather at 9.30am at Cambridge Raceway for a ride, or drive, to Frankton.

Frankton Thunder is a charity event to support the work of the St Vincent de Paul organisation (Vinnies), so entry to the event is by donation.

Danielle Zollickhofer is a multimedia journalist based in Hamilton. She joined NZME in 2021 and is writing for the Waikato Herald.

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