Rail fans came out in force Sunday for the Montpelier Trackside Modelers first-ever show at the Quality Inn.
Around 35 vendors filled 135 tables with model train accessories at the Quality Inn atriums. The show was definitely a hit as patrons flowed amongst the tables in the main hall and viewed different displays of running trains in the north atrium.
The show was open to all gauges and was meant to bring in people from the Tri-state area. The club succeeded on that part as some people came as far as Chicago, Cleveland and LaPorte, Ind.
Dressed in a conductor’s outfit, Randy Bible was the face of the event, engaging with people and promoting model trains as a hobby. The event came out of a desire to boost interest in the hobby in this area.
“We actually had one particular member who was interested in doing a show and he challenged the rest of us,” Bible said. “We hoped people would show up.”
Among the vendors were Stan and Shari Burchardt of Hillsdale County. Stan has been collecting trains and train memorabilia for close to 30 years.
His love for trains began when he was young. He remembers getting a Lionel train set and going to shows at a mall in Jackson, Michigan. As he got older, his mom threw out his train sets.
“I started buying the trains I wanted when I was eight, nine, ten or eleven, when I was in my forties and fifties”, Burchardt said.
Now that he has retired from his job in law enforcement, he is selling off his collection and downsizing his life. Most of the collection was based on Lionel old gauge, including several model buildings. He also had some old photographs for sale which used to hang on the walls in his train room.
Another Hillsdale resident, Jim Eckhert, was selling his vintage Matchbox cars and other die-cast models.
Some of the displays were called Time Saver puzzles. These were rectangle-shaped displays of tracks where operators moved various cars with various color tabs around the tracks to rest by a same-colored post.
“It’s called a Time Saver, because it takes so much time to solve,” Bob Hanna of Defiance, said. He is a member of the Lost Division club which has operations every third Tuesday.
The eager member was Jim McPike of Bowling Green. He’s been interested in model trains since he was a young boy – apart from a brief hiatus when he wanted to learn about girls, he said.
“I only need one girl,” McPike said. “I need hundreds of trains.”
McPike has raised a family but is still wild about trains. He praised his fellow club members for their work in getting the show together.
“All the guys are awesome,” McPike said. “We are all different; we are all artisans.”
McPike joined the club three years ago and was disappointed when he learned they didn’t have a show.
“I told them we need to have a train show,” McPike said.
The show was a fundraiser to help pay for a new roof for the building is in, member Jerry Zigler said.
“The chamber owns the building so we are helping them,” Zigler said. “We’ve been there 20 years (at 414 W. Main St.).
“We don’t want to move,” McPike said.