West Springfield, MA-Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show
by John Sacerdote
A family looks on at one of the over 40 operating layouts at the Show!
Every year late in January or early in February, the Amherst Railway Society holds its Railroad Hobby Show at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds (The Big E) in West Springfield Massachusetts. More than 24,000 railfan and public attended the Show each of the past three years.
This year's show is (Saturday and Sunday) January 30th and 31st, 2010. Show hours are Saturday 9am - 5pm and Sunday, 10am - 5pm. Admission is $10 for adults. Children 15 and younger are free when accompanied by and adult. Advanced tickets are available on the show website, www.railroadhobbyshow.com.
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. The Amherst Belt Lines, an HO scale model railroad empire, has become a show highlight. As of the 2005 show layout, It has grown to over 16 scale miles of mainline (1000+ linear feet) on 78 modules and has the capacity of multiple train operation.
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. Major national manufacturers and publishers will attend this Show which was rated number one of the top three in the nation in a recent Model Railroad Industry Association manufacturer's survey.
Proceeds from the show are used to promote interest in railroads. Donations have been made to various rail museums, historical societies, restoration projects and scholarship funds. Over $400,000 has been awarded since 1991.