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Train show draws enthusiasts, families

November 06, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

MONT ALTO, Pa. — Thanks to cartoons and books featuring Thomas the Tank Engine, many people get interested in model trains at a very young age.

Some never lose that interest.

Mike Toms, a seven-year member of the Waynesboro (Pa.) Lions Club, is one of those people.

“I’m 57, so probably 56 years,” Toms said when asked how long he’s been a train hobbyist. “I’ve been interested in model trains all my life.”

Attracting local enthusiasts and families, the Lions Club held its 11th annual model train show Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Mont Alto Volunteer Fire Department.

Toms, co-chairman of the event, said the club expected up to 500 people for the show, which featured numerous vendors from the area with their model trains and supplies for a variety of scale sizes.

“We hope to get 500 people,” Toms said. “It seems like there’s been a steady stream of people through the door.”

The show started 11 years ago as a fundraiser for the club, spearheaded by longtime Lions Club member Dave McCarney, who was operating one of several full functioning model train layouts inside the fire engine bay area of the department on Pa. 997.

McCarney, a model train enthusiast, said the club brainstormed for a new idea for fundraising and his knowledge of hobby train shows made sense as an annual event. He agreed that they see a mix of hobbyists and families with excited young children who turn out for the show.

“We even have a couple fanatic adults,” McCarney said.

The show floor was filled with more than 80 tables of train set parts, like cars, locomotives and tracks, as well as scenery pieces to add depth and originality to any hobbyist’s track layout. Toms said all spaces for the show were sold out.

It gives vendors and local model train groups a chance to network and promote other events, said John Norris, president of the Cumberland Valley Model Railroad Club of Chambersburg, Pa.

“You get a nice spectrum of people,” Norris said, describing casual onlookers and genuine “rivet counters,” a term for true enthusiasts who pay extreme attention to detail of their models.

The event has been held at the Mont Alto Volunteer Fire Department for the past 10 years after the inaugural event took place at Waynesboro Area Senior High School, McCarney said.

The Lions Club also holds several other major fundraisers throughout the year, such as a pancake breakfast in February and White Cane Day in the fall. Toms said the funds are used to benefit local people who suffer from vision-related illnesses.

“The money stays right here in the local community,” he said.

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