Alongside new product launches, model train shows are one of the year’s top highlights for us model railroaders!
Whether you discovered a love for model train railroading during the pandemic, or are a long-time railroader who’s never been to a show, there are many opportunities to get to one during summer.
Yet, rocking up at a venue for the first time can be intimidating – there’s so much going on! Here’s what you can expect at model train shows, some etiquette tips, and a look at upcoming model train shows for the coming months.
What to expect at a model train show: Lots to see and do!
There are many things to see and do at model train shows. If everything on the list below sounds fun, we recommend arranging to attend a show held over a weekend rather than a one-day event. While one-day events are also fantastic, who wouldn’t want the extra time to make sure they can fit in everything?!
Typically, model train shows will include:
- Demonstrations of toy trains and accessories – lookout for those demonstrating upcoming locomotive releases!
- Various layouts demonstrating these products – there might be a single centerpiece layout used to demonstrate all products during a show or several layouts dotted around the venue.
- Specialist trade stands ran by the world’s leading manufacturers and model train stores, where you can ask questions about and buy new products or model train supplies for your collection.
- Workshops where you can interact with fellow model railroaders and get tips on everything from creating a layout to maintaining your locomotives and rolling stock.
- A trading area where you can buy and sell from other railroaders or swap products.
Model train show etiquette
Aside from the usual standards of human decency and politeness towards everyone, the most significant piece of etiquette at model train shows is typically not to touch anything unless it’s to look at the price tag. These places are busy, and as you know, the products are valuable, so ask those running stands if you’d like a demonstration of something or wish to take a closer look.
Negotiating with sellers (or if you’re a seller yourself!)
If you’re looking to buy products to add to your collection, you will usually be able to negotiate even with trade sellers – but don’t insult them with your offers!
Likewise, if you’re going to a model train show and plan to sell parts of your collection, be prepared to receive some offers that you may wish to respond to with some choice words. But please resist the temptation to do so!
How to prepare for attending a model train show
As with most things in life, taking the time to plan before you attend your first model train show will pay dividends.
- Make your travel, parking, and, if necessary, accommodation arrangements as far in advance as possible.
- Look up the show’s website and get a map of the venue layout and exhibitor, if available, so you know where the stands are that you want to visit. Also, look up the times for specific exhibitions, demonstrations, or workshops, so you don’t miss out on anything you want to see.
- Have a budget! It’s easy to go to a model train show and spend more money than you should, so make sure you have a plan.
- Clean anything you’re taking with you to sell or swap, and be clear to yourself what your limits are for negotiating prices and accepting offers.
Upcoming model train shows
Now that you know a little about what to expect and how to prepare for your first model train show, let’s look at upcoming model train shows for summer 2022.
Flash Model Train Meet – Kutztown, PA (May 21 & July 16)
The Flash Model Train Meet combines open-air spaces and the pure outdoors. With free admission for railroaders, the event often attracts a good selection of vendors, thanks to relatively cheap exhibitor pricing.
An excellent opportunity to buy new locomotives and rolling stock for your collection or browse new parts and spares. This meet runs from 8am to 2pm.
Address: Renninger’s Kutztown Farmers & Vintage Antiques Market, 740 Noble Street, Kutztown, PA 19530
Melbourne Train Show – Melbourne, FL (June 4 & September 3)
The Melbourne Train Show has a fantastic mix of operating layouts and demonstrations coupled with vendors selling everything you need to add to your collection. Each show typically has over 100 tables, so there’s plenty to see for everyone!
It costs just $5 for entry (under 10s go for free).
Address: Azan Shrine Center, 1591 W Eau Gallie Blvd, Melbourne, FL 32935
Shenandoah Valley Model Train and Railroading Show – Fishersville, VA (June 5)
Shenandoah Valley Model Train and Railroading Show is a favorite with model railroaders who love the history side of this hobby, with railroad historical societies meeting here and a wide range of railroad memorabilia typically on offer. Of course, you’ll have the chance to buy and sell new or used model trains, too!
Admission is $5 (under 12s go for free), with the show open from 10am to 4pm.
Address: Augusta Expo, 277 Expo Road, Fishersville, VA 22939
Tallahassee Model Railroad Show & Sale – Tallahassee, FL (June 25 – 26)
This show is run by the Big Bend Model Railroad Association and features a wide range of exhibits taking in the full range of model railroad scales. 2022’s show will feature T-Trak layouts and be attended by many model railroading experts who will be on hand to answer any questions you have about creating a layout or choosing new additions for your collection.
The show is open from 9am to 5pm on Saturday June 25 and from 10am to 4pm the following day.
Admission is $10 (under 12s and scouts in uniform go for free).
Address: North Florida Fairgrounds, 441 Paul Russell Road, Tallahassee, FL 32301
Central Arkansas Train & Hobby Show – Conway, AR (August 27 – 28)
While not a 100% model railroad show, with over 40,000 square feet of exhibits and displays, you’ll find plenty of model train layouts and products for sale. Given the variety on offer, it’s an excellent show for taking children who have other hobbies outside of model railroading – especially if you’d usually need to motivate them to go with you!
This show is open from 9am to 4pm on both days. Admission is $8 (under 12s go for free).
Address: Conway Expo Center, 2505 East Oak Street, Conway, AR 72032
Scott Antique Markets featuring Anton’s Antique Toy & Train Show – Atlanta, GA (September 8 – 11)
This is the world’s largest monthly indoor antique show, and in September features a brilliant model train show in the South Expo Building.
The show is open from 10:45am to 6pm on Thursday, 9am to 6pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10am to 4pm on Sunday. Admission costs $5.
Address: Atlanta Exposition Center South Building, 3850 Jonesboro Road SE, Atlanta, GA 30354
Atlanta Toy & Model Train Show – Acworth, GA (September 24)
The Atlanta Toy & Model Train Show is run by the Terminus Chapter Train Collectors Association (TCA) and boasts a range of features and exhibits, including operating train layouts and the opportunity to buy and sell new and antique toy trains and individual parts. If you need an appraisal of a piece or advice around repairs, you’ll be able to find that, too!
The show is open from 9am to 2pm.
Admission costs $10, or $7 for TCA members. Under 17s and accompanying spouses are free – an excellent opportunity to get your partner to embrace model railroading!
Final tip: Take plenty of pictures!
We want to know about your first experience of a model train show!
Take plenty of photographs –as you’re allowed to – and remember to tag us on Instagram when you’re at the shows and to show off your new buys when they take pride of place in your collection!