Water, Rails, Koi, BBQ, Hounds and Horses…Oh My!

Yes, you read that headline right. In the span of two short weeks you can go on a self-guided tour of 25 homes with garden ponds and railroad trains, attend a fun garden party BBQ at the Fernhoff home in Verdi featuring cascading waterfalls and over 200 koi fish and then hang out with some hounds and horses at the annual Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby. Here’s the best part though. All of this fun gives back to your community and benefits local charities.


The train focus portion of the Water & Rails Pond & Garden Tour event is the creation of Hawley MacLean, owner and CEO of MacLean Financial Group, Inc.  MacLean’s passion and fascination for trains is quite apparent when you go to their conference room and see the train traveling along the tracks throughout the office. The track now expands into the atrium and throughout the entire building as many of the tenants are catching railroad fever.

Twelve years ago MacLean teamed up with Paul Hollis of the Rail City Garden Center, a unique locally owned and operated nursery, for the water feature portion of the event. It all started with a vision to help people suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a small pond, a waterfall and some trains. Since then the event has raised over $400,000 for ALS research and support. This family friendly event is popular with the young and old. The self-guided aspect allows people to go at their own pace and tour as many ponds or gardens as they’d like on Father’s Day weekend, June 17th and 18th.

The model trains travel along the tracks beside the soothing water gardens and vibrant koi-filled ponds while enhancing the viewing experience. MacLean notes that more and more people are valuing the peace and tranquility of garden railroading and he’s proud to be a part of this annual event. People who tour can see how plants, fish, water and railroad trains are able to coexist and bring enjoyment to so many. People from as far away as Australia look forward to this annual event.

Another charitable event, the Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby, was added two years after the Water & Rails event began. It is an equestrian competition that raises charitable funds for deserving nonprofit organizations serving the northern Nevada community. This “Weekend of Equestrian Excellence” takes place June 24th and 25th. With over $40,000 in prize money at stake, it attracts some of the best riders and horses in the country. The local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation will be the second charitable benefactor. The Food Bank of Northern Nevada return for the fifth year in a row. This event is one-of-a-kind and even includes a calling of the hounds.

For MacLean, the idea behind both of these charitable organizations is to create the biggest impact here locally. That’s why he chose the Food Bank of Northern Nevada and ALS of Nevada as benefactors for this event. For information on how to get tickets for any of these upcoming June events, visit www.waterandrails.org and www.fmhunterderby.com.

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