Convention and Show Season

Convention and Show Season

modeltrainshow_04A model train show exhibit hall

Some questions I commonly receive via email or messages to our Facebook page are, “Is there a model train/toy train show in my area?”, “where can I take my kids/grandkids to see model train layouts?” and “I have model trains/toy trains I would like to sell or swap. Where could I do that?” I always try to point folks towards conventions, shows, swap meets, or model railroad clubs in their area when I can. And now, as spring rolls on and highballs towards summer, that means that convention and show season is going into full gear. Many of you may have the same questions (or similar ones) to those above. Many of you may be planning a vacation and wondering if there is model train convention in the area you intend to visit. So, here’s a rundown of just a few of the various events around the United States, Canada, and the UK. There are far more events than these listed – I have simply chosen to highlight a few that stand out. If you don’t see anything listed here that is close to you or close to where you will be, check the local area and search for “model train shows” in your area on the Internet.

NOTE: All times are local. Websites for events should be watched for changes to schedules, dates, or times.
NOTE 2: This list is shows and conventions only, though a few of them are hosted by model train clubs; a future blog will highlight select model train clubs specifically.

Lms_4-6-0This photo has been released into the public domain by its author, Jonnic1 at English Wikipedia. This applies worldwide.

MAY

Great Midwest Train Show
DuPage County Fairgrounds, Wheaton, Illinois

The Great Midwest Train Show bills itself as the largest monthly train show in the US, with an average of 180 exhibitors per month. The next show is Monday May 1, 2016, but there are shows every month this year except July. The hours are 9 AM to 3 PM, admission is $7 for adult, children under 12 are free.

Criftins Model Railway Show 2016
Criftins Parish Hall, NR Ellesmere, Shropshire, England

The Ellesmere Model Railway Club Criftins Model Railway Show 2016, May 2, 10:30 AM to 4 PM, will feature traders, displays, operating layouts, demonstrations, and hands-on operations. Admission is £2.00 per adult, concessions are £1.00.

O Scale West 2016
Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, California

The 11th Annual O Scale West/S West convention takes place May 5-7, 2016. The dates have been in February in prior years, but has changed to May for this year. The O Scale West is a 3-day convention offering clinics and workshops on O and S scale modeling, plus around 200 tables of items for sale from vendors and manufacturers alike.

Niagara Frontier Region Convention 2016
Woodroffe Campus of Algonquin College, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The Niagara Frontier Region Convention 2016, May 6-8, 2016, is the annual gathering of the central Canada membership of the NMRA. Clinics, model contests, layout tours, operating sessions, and a banquet are all part of this annual convention.

Pikes Peak Division NMRA Train Show & Swap Meet
Trinity United Methodist Church Gymnasium, Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Pikes Peak Division Swap Meet, May 14, 2016, 9 AM to 3 PM, will feature tables for exhibitors, buying and swapping of model trains, an available lunch, and free parking. Admission is $5.00 per adult, 12 and under are free.

Victoria Model Railway Show
Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, Colwood, British Columbia, Canada

The annual Victoria Model Railway Show, May 29, 2016, 10 AM to 4 PM, features exhibitor booths with both private individuals and commercial retailers, a model contest, operating model trains, free parking, and hourly door prizes. Adults are $7, 11-16 is $3, and 10 and under is free. A family admission is only $14.

JUNE

NMRA Mid-Continent Region Convention 2016
Hilton Garden Inn, Council Bluffs, Iowa

The annual NMRA Mid-Continent Region Convention, June 2-5, will feature clinics on modeling and railroad history, field trips to the Union Pacific museum, model railroad tours and operating sessions, and more. Registration is open.

Lionel Collectors Club UK Annual American Classic Toy Train Show
Winter Gardens, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, England

The Lionel Collectors Club UK Annual American Classic Toy Train Show, June 4, 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM, will have a display of Lionel trains, vintage and new, along with trains from other manufacturers, limited sales, and operating layouts. Admission is £4 per adult, £2 per child, or £10 for a family.

NMRA Pacific Northwest Region “Selkirk Express” 2016 Convention
Prestige Harbourfront Resort & Convention Centre, Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada

The NMRA Pacific Northwest Region “Selkirk Express” 2016 Convention, June 15-19, will feature clinics and workshops, tours of model railroads, tours of prototype railroad museums, a casual BBQ, and more.

NMRA Lone Star Region Super Regional Convention
Sheraton Arlington, Arlington, Texas

The NMRA Lone Star Region Super Regional Convention, June 22-25, will include clinics, layout tours, operating sessions, live steam, prototype tours, non-prototype tours, contests, a BBQ, and much more.

13th Annual North Carolina Model Train and Railroad Artifact Show & Sale
Metrolina Expo Trade Center, Charlotte, North Carolina

The 13th Annual North Carolina Model Train and Railroad Artifact Show & Sale, June 25, 9 AM to 4 PM, will have around 200 tables and dealers and several operating model railroad layouts brought in from around the Southeast.

National N Scale Convention 2016
Sheraton Overland Park Hotel at the Convention Center, Overland Park, Kansas

The National N Scale Convention 2016, June 29 – July 3, will have a swap meet, dealers from the retail and manufacturing side, clinics, model contests, layout exhibits at the hotel, and visits to home layouts in the area.

JULY

Exeter 2016 Model Railway Exhibition
The Matford Centre, Exeter, Devon, England

The Exeter 2016 Model Railway Exhibition by the Exe Model Railway Society, July 2, 10 AM to 5 PM and July 3, 10 AM to 4 PM, features dealers and exhibitors, operating layouts, and demonstrations. Admission is £6.50 per adult, concessions are £6.00.

NMRA National Convention & Train Show
Westin Hotel, Indianapolis, Indiana

The NMRA National Convention & Train Show, July 3-10, is the national convention for members of the National Model Railroad Association. The convention will feature clinics and workshops, a contest room, a silent auction, area layout tours, prototype railroad tours, and much more.

32nd National Garden Railway Convention
Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, Santa Clara, California

The 32nd National Garden Railway Convention, July 4-10, will include clinics, a BBQ and train ride on the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad, an ice cream social, vendor’s hall, layout tours, and more.

Lionel Operating Train Society 37th Annual Convention
Radisson Hotel Valley Forge, Philadelphia (Valley Forge), Pennsylvania

The Lionel Operating Train Society, or L.O.T.S. for short, will have its annual convention July 10-16. The convention will include historic tours of Philadelphia, tours of the Yuengling Brewery, seminars, home layout tours, prototype railroad tours, and much more.

National Summer Steamup 2016 Small-Scale Live Steam Event
Lions Gate Hotel, McClellan, California

The National Summer Steamup 2016 Small-Scale Live Steam Event, July 13-17, is an annual gathering of small-scale live steam modelers and enthusiasts. The event will feature clinics, dealers, a BBQ, door prizes, and operating live steam trains.

Lionel Collectors Club of America Annual Convention
Hilton Kansas City Airport, Kansas City, Missouri

The Lionel Collectors Club of American Annual Convention, July 25-30, will feature BNSF train rides, visits to the BNSF hump yard, tours of the Steamboat Arabia museum, a trading hall, seminars, and home layout visits.

AUGUST

Toy Train Operating Society 50th Anniversary Convention
The Queen Mary Hotel, Long Beach, California

The Toy Train Operating Society – T.T.O.S. for short – celebrates its 50th anniversary convention in grand style this year, August 1-6, aboard the RMS Queen Mary, now docked in Long Beach, California as the Queen Mary Hotel. The convention will feature layouts and displays, a trading hall, an annual membership meeting, a banquet, and will offer several different tours of area layouts and non-railroad attractions (extra costs for tours).

Central Missouri Rail Road Association Train Show and Swap Meet
Warrenton Elks Lodge, Warrenton, Missouri

The annual Central Missouri Rail Road Association Train Show and Swap Meet, August 6, 10 AM to 2:30 PM, will have free parking, operating train displays, vendor tables and swap meet, and more. Admission is $5 per adult, $3 per child 11 – 17, 10 and under are free.

Muskoka Rails 2016
Bracebridge Fair Grounds, Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada

The Muskoka Rails 2016 Annual Summer Train Show, August 6, 10 AM to 5 PM and August 7, 10 AM to 4 PM, will have clinics, numerous vendors, operating layouts, door prizes, and a BBQ.

Bexhill Model Railway Club Annual Exhibition
St Richards Catholic College, Bexhill-On-Sea, East Sussex, England

The Bexhill Model Railway Club Annual Exhibition, August 13, 10 AM to 5 PM, will feature layouts, sales stand, refreshments, and free parking, among many things. Admission is £4 per adult, £2 per child, or £10 for the family.

N-Scale Weekend 2016
Jaffa Shrine Center, Altoona, Pennsylvania

The 12th Annual N-Scale Weekend, August 20, 10 AM to 5 PM and August 21, 9 AM to 3 PM, will have vendors, displays, and much more over the weekend. Admission is $5 per adult, 12 and under are free with a paid adult.

Regal Railway Toy, Hobby, and Collectibles Show
Lopez Inc. Hall, Pinellas Park, Florida

The Regal Railway Toy, Hobby, and Collectibles Show at Pinellas Park will be held Saturday August 27, 9 AM to 2 PM. The show will feature vendors and collectors, model train layouts, available lunch, and more. Admission is $5 per adult, 12 and under are free.

51st Atlanta Model Train and Railroadiana Show and Sale
Infinite Energy Center Atlanta (Duluth), Georgia

The 51st Atlanta Model Train and Railroadiana Show and Sale, August 27, 9 AM to 4 PM, will feature over 300 vendor tables of model trains and Railroadiana, several large, working layouts including one G-scale layout, and much more. Admission is $9 per adult, children under 12 are free. Parking is free.

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Robert Thomson

Robert W. Thomson is a life-long railfan, the son of a former L&N Railroad B&B gang foreman, and an amateur photographer. He was born and raised in southeast Tennessee but now lives in Butte, Montana with his wife, Connie and cat, Charlie. Robert has worked as a park ranger, underground mine tour guide, freelance roleplaying game writer, and ran his own roleplaying game publishing company until selling it in 2012.

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About The Author

Robert Thomson

Robert W. Thomson is a life-long railfan, the son of a former L&N Railroad B&B gang foreman, and an amateur photographer. He was born and raised in southeast Tennessee but now lives in Butte, Montana with his wife, Connie and cat, Charlie. Robert has worked as a park ranger, underground mine tour guide, freelance roleplaying game writer, and ran his own roleplaying game publishing company until selling it in 2012.