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Railroad Club Train Show and Sale attracts large family audience

November 20, 2011

A model train enthusiast at the Lansing Model Railroad Club’s Train Show and Sale reminisces about how she first got involved with model train making and her fascination with the art.

Inside a room of the Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education on Sunday morning, train whistles blew and children cheered as model trains barrelled around handmade tracks. In another room, families crowded around vendors’ stands, eager to purchase their own model train sets.

The Lansing Model Railroad Club Train Show and Sale was held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Pavilion, attracting more than 3,000 people by the end of the show, said Ron St. Laurent, treasurer of the Lansing Model Railroad Club.

At least 500 model train vendors and enthusiasts from across the state attended the event, which also attracted vendors from Indiana, Illinois and Ohio, St. Laurent said.

New and used model trains, Thomas the Tank Engine toys, big Lionel trains, old railroad timetables and other model train paraphernalia filled the vendors’ tables.

With such a wide variety of vendors, representatives of the Lansing Model Railroad Club said they hoped to attract people of all ages, and club president Michael Frezell said he was happy to see so many families at the event.

“If you look around, you’ll see a lot of strollers,” Frezell said. “I think (the high attendance of families makes) this a successful show.”

Eaton Rapids, Mich., resident Emily Bodkin attended the event with her husband and three children.
“(My children) loved seeing the detailed layouts,” Bodkin said. “My son is beside himself with excitement.”

Saginaw, Mich., residents Michael and Karen Janczewski, who showed their circus-themed display — complete with a big top tent — at the show, said the excitement on children’s faces is one of the main reasons they bring their circus scene to the Train Show and Sale.

The couple used to build model train displays with their children when they were young, and they now enjoy showing their displays to others.

“Our display gives the children a new appreciation for the circus and model trains,” Karen Janczewski said.

Frezell said those interested in model trains were often exposed to them from a young age, and he hopes many of the children at the event will pick up the hobby.

He first became interested in model trains when he was five years old. About 35 years later, he likes seeing children show interest in the trains when he plans shows.

Frezell said although he was pleased with the amount of families at the event, he was disappointed by the lack of MSU student interest in model trains.

“Students and all the way up to people that are 100 years old can enjoy model trains,” Frezell said. “You really can have a lot of fun collecting stuff and learning the history about trains.”

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