My boys love trains (and when I say “boys” I am including my husband too 🙂 ).
We have been all over this state looking at model trains. From Manchester to Middletown, Portland to Fairfield, Essex to East Windsor to Old Saybrook. And that’s not counting the more than a dozen libraries we’ve been to with toy train tables or the outings we’ve been on that involve real trains (like this one, this one, and this one).
So last year we thought we’d check out one of the biggest model railroading events around (the biggest in the entire US according to their website): The Amherst Railway Society’s annual Railroad Hobby Show. This event was such a hit with my crew (the kids and the grownups), that I wanted to put together a quick post for our site with some details and pictures from last year’s event.
Now, normally, we don’t write posts about one-time events because we hate it just as much as you do when we read about something that sounds so amazingly awesome only to find out that the event is already over 🙁
But in this case, I am able to give you a sneak peek from last year’s event in advance of the upcoming Railroad Hobby Show on January 30th & 31st (2016) at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds (home of the Big E) in Springfield, MA. So you can get all excited about it…and then actually attend it too!
Of course I have lots of pictures for you (of course!), but first, to give you a good overview of the event, here are a few quotes from their website:
“The annual Railroad Hobby Show occupies four buildings at the Eastern States Exposition, draws 25,000 people, and is one of the most respected railroad shows in the country.”
“The Railroad Hobby Show now has over 8 acres in floor space, or just over 360,000 square feet.”
“The event features real life railroads and scale model railroads, historical societies, travel agencies, art shows, flea market dealers, importers, manufacturers and photographers. Modelers’ exhibits will display outstanding handiwork on layouts ranging from the tiny Z scale which fits on a coffee table to a monster 80 foot N-Trak system.”
“Commercial vendors and hobbyists will sell model railroad equipment, photos, slides, video tapes, books and other railroad memorabilia. New and antique railroad items will be on display and for sale.”
So as you can tell, this is one HUGE model train event with acres and acres of model train mania!
When hubby first mentioned the Railroad Show to me last year, and I checked it out online, I was envisioning a very serious, model-train enthusiast type environment. More for serious grownup collectors. And I wasn’t sure if little kids would be welcome. But that is not the case at all! Yes, one of the main purposes of the event is for vendors to showcase merchandise, but there were plenty of people just there for the spectacle. Kids everywhere! It was a really fun, family-friendly event.
Kids ages 15 and under are admitted FREE (when accompanied by a paying adult). It’s stroller-friendly. There’s kid-friendly food and snacks available for purchase on site.
And display operators are more than happy to have your kiddos just stand there in awe and stare at their amazing model train layouts for a good long time– just don’t let the kiddos touch anything. They can be a little bit grumpy about the touching (but hey, if you spent hours of your life putting these things together, you’d feel that way too!).
These layouts are really incredible. I think I took a hundred pictures of them. Don’t worry, I edited my collection 🙂
This little boy had THE BEST time!
So, do you have any plans for January 3oth or 31st? You do now! 🙂
The show is located in the Better Living Center and the adjacent Young, Stroh and Mallary Buildings at:
The Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds (home of the Big E)
1305 Memorial Avenue
West Springfield MA. 01089
For GPS Coordinates, use the following info: 875 Memorial Avenue, West Springfield, MA as your destination address (coordinates are 42 °05’38.88″N – 72 °36’42.36″W – Elev. 52′) to enter Gate 9.
Amherst Railway Society
P.O. Box 247
Monson, MA 01057-0247
P: (413) 267-4555
Show Dates & Times (2016):
Saturday January 30, 2016 – 9:00am – 5:00pm
Sunday January 31, 2016 – 10:00am – 5:00pm
Children 15 and under: FREE Accompanied by an Adult
EASTERN STATES PARKING: $5.00 per day
- Stroller Friendly: YES.
- Restroom: YES.
- Baby Changing Station: YES.
- Parking: YES. There is a $5 fee for parking (per day), payable at the entrance gate.
- Food for Sale: YES
- Outside Food Allowed: I think so. I remember we brought in some little snacks for the boys and no one seemed to mind. But there is a variety of food available for purchase inside (as well as plenty of places to sit and eat).
- Cash Required: Hmmm. I should have taken better notes last year 🙂 I seem to remember needing cash to pay the $5 parking fee (but I can’t say for sure they don’t accept credit cards). And I’m also not sure how we paid for the admission. I think we may have used a credit card (but I can’t say for sure). Inside the event many of the vendors due accept credit cards, so I would say just bring enough cash to cover parking and maybe admission and you should be okay otherwise.
- Dress Code: None. But when we went we had to walk a good distance from our car to the building and it was C-O-L-D. The ticket booth was outside as well, and you may have to wait in line to get your tickets (it’s a popular event!). So be sure to bundle up just in case. Also, this isn’t apparel-related, but if you have one of those lightweight, foldable plastic step stools, it might not be a bad idea to bring one for the kids to climb up onto so they can get a better view of the trains. Many of the layouts are higher up than kid eye-level. Your arms and back will thank you 🙂
- Age Recommendations: All ages— this really is one for the whole train-loving family!
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES. The show is on Saturday & Sunday.
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