The final Casey Jones Chapter TCA train show of the season is in the history books and our proverbial last train has left the station.
It was a very sunny and extraordinarily hot Saturday morning. The temperature and humidity soared to uncomfortable levels well before noon. Fortunately, that didn't stop people from getting out to the show. Over 150 people visited the show, which is a big crowd for what is typically one of the quieter shows of the season. Perhaps people were there to take refuge in the cool comfort of St. George's air-conditioned facility. Whatever the reason, it was great to see so many people come out to enjoy the trains on such a hot and humid June morning.
Saturday's show brings the Casey Jones Chapter season to a close. The 2017-18 season was an exciting one for both the chapter and the show.
Mike and Liz Kelly took over responsibility for the Kids Club and really notched it up (pun intended). They made and continue to make all sorts of adjustments and improvements to the club to enhance the show experience for our youngest members and visitors. This is perhaps our most important function as a chapter: introducing kids to the hobby so our shows and the hobby have a bright future.
Mike and Liz have some exciting changes planned for next year as well. They want to provide more hands-on activities to help kids develop their model railroading skills. We will share more information closer to the fall show.
Len Burke joined as Chapter Secretary in December and focused heavily on our marketing and communications efforts and show presentation and administration. We now have a social media presence, a webpage, a system for managing our email lists, the beginnings of a visual identity (things like a logo, colors, standard typeface), a streamlined check-in process, and we cut the amount of paper and postage we use as more of our communication and marketing is now done electronically. We also conducted our first satisfaction survey and received important feedback from both visitors and members on how we can improve the show. We believe this work is starting to pay off as we are seeing higher attendance.
Vendor participation was also up for the year thanks to Richard Gonzales' relentless pursuit of both old and new vendors. We nearly ran out of tables at every show! We are also starting to see a wider variety of trains offered as a result of his work. It's not just an o-gauge show anymore. This should come as good news to those asking us for trains in other gauges and scales.
While we are on the subject, we would like to thank our vendors. Without your support there is little reason to have a show. Your trains help keep this hobby alive. Your support, friendship and humor help keep the show alive and make it a more interesting place to be five times each year.
Bill Autry and Nep Maury continued in their roles as President and Vice President, respectively, and provided their expert guidance and leadership to the chapter throughout the year. Bill and his brother, John, are also important vendors for the show.
As always, there was the faithful crew of people from the Casey Jones Hi-railers that helped with the moving, set-up and operation of the layout. This activity involves a lot of time and physical labor. It is grueling work, especially in warmer weather, and the importance of their work cannot be overstated: there simply is no show without the layout. The layout is what everyone not buying trains comes to see. We hope to make some big changes to our train operations for next year to make our trains more interesting and reduce the work involved for the crew.
Higher attendance enabled us to add a few things to the show this year. These changes were part of our ongoing commitment to improving the show.
Probably the biggest addition to the show involved our giveaways. We were able to give away train sets at our Holiday and Winter shows. This was a first for us and a tradition we hope to continue.
We also started offering food at the show. Eric Meyers of Eat at Eric's Grill was on site with his mobile kitchen starting this past winter. It was a hit with some of the vendors because it meant they didn't have to leave the show to get something to eat. We also think it makes a nice addition to the show for attendees. Eric reports that business has been acceptable but that it could improve. He provides his services at no cost to us. We are hopeful show attendance and patronage of his kitchen will continue at levels high enough to support his continued presence.
We kick off our next season - the chapter's 40th Anniversary season - on October 6th. As we mentioned earlier, look for some exciting changes to the show as we work to make it the best it can be. We'll provide more details as we get closer to October. In the meantime, we at the Casey Jones Chapter would like to thank everyone for their support during the past year. We look forward to seeing everyone again in the fall.
Here are the show dates for next season:
Fall Kick-off - October 6th, 2018
Holiday Show - December 1st
Winter - February 2nd, 2019
Spring - April 6th
Summer - June 1st
We are 99% sure these dates will hold, but be sure to check back from time to time in case there are any changes.
P.S. Summer doesn't have to mean the end of trains entirely. There are still a few things going on around the area. Be sure to check out our Events page for more information.
This Saturday marks the end of our train show season. We hope to see everyone in Germantown this weekend. Check our Events page for more information.
The Memphis Model Railroaders held their semi-annual open house event on April 30th. Attendance was quite good due to some light promotion over social media and email to the local rail fanning and model train enthusiast communities. It was good to see so many people come out to visit the layouts and see all that has been accomplished. The members put a lot of time and effort into their railroads. We will post a video compilation of the event real soon.
The photos and other content of Mike Condren's archives are back online after a nine-month hiatus. This is great news for those who rely on this important historical information for modeling or other purposes. The Memphis-oriented content can be found here.
As the temperatures warm up, train-related activities tend to cool down for many people. But hold on! There is still one big burst of model train activity remaining in the area before things invariably begin to wind down for the summer.
This weekend there are two train shows in the region, one here in the Memphis area and one over in Pine Bluff, AR, near Little Rock. If you find yourself going to Atlanta this weekend, there's even a show in that area, in Acworth, GA. That makes three train shows on the same day within a few hundred miles of Memphis. Not bad.
Next weekend (April 14th) there is a TCA show in Nashville. Later in the month, on April 28th, the Memphis Model Railroaders are hosting their semi-annual open house event. The final TCA show of the season for our area (after the April show) will occur on June 2nd.
So don't turn your thoughts away from train season quite yet. First enjoy what April has to offer.
Springtime is a period of transition in many aspects of life. For a lot of us indoor wintertime activities, such as model railroading, start giving way to yard work, sports and other outdoor interests. But don't put those trains on the shelf quite yet! There is still a lot happening involving model railroading in the Memphis area over the few months. Be sure to check out our Events page and join the fun before the season winds down for the summer.
Memphismodelrailroaders.com turns 1 today. It's already been a year? They grow up so fast...
One year ago today this website came to life. It was launched with a goal of creating better awareness of the model railroading groups and activities that are in the Memphis area. By most accounts the website appears to be serving its intended purpose well.
The website sees lots of activity each week, and most of the groups represented on the site have received multiple inquiries in the past year. Local train shows have also started to see increased attendance from people reporting they used the site to get information about the shows. Hopefully, these trends will continue and the groups that call this site their on-line home will see their ranks and events grow.
It was a February show to remember. The Casey Jones Chapter of the Train Collectors Association held their February winter show in Germantown on the 3rd. What was different about this show was the size of both the show and the crowd. There were nearly 40 tables of trains available for sale - trains were everywhere! On top of that, over 200 people came out to see the trains. It looked a lot like the crowd at a show in December, not February. There were lots of kids which made the show even better. Below is a shot of one such little guy looking on with obvious anticipation as a steamer approaches in the background. Then there is the happy grandfather of another little guy who won the Dinosaur Diesel train set the chapter was giving away.
This was by far one of the busiest train shows the chapter has hosted in the area. Everyone seemed to have a nice time, and the chapter received some great feedback from event-goers in a follow-up survey on what they can do to make future shows even better.
Next month memphismodelrailroaders.com celebrates its first birthday. Here’s a look back at the last year and some of the accomplishments of our groups:
February – MMR goes live on Valentine’s Day weekend. The site creates a new on-line presence for local model railroading groups to showcase their work and create greater visibility to activities and events in the area.
March – The Casey Jones Hi-railers launches their YouTube channel.
May – It’s open-house season. Local model railroading groups invite friends and family to visit their railroads and see all the hard work and progress.
August – Several area groups and hobbyists help out on Train Heritage Day in Collierville by running or displaying model trains that represent the real railroads that helped shape this part of the world.
A member of the Bluff City Benders (a Bend Track Modular Group) prepares their N-scale modular layout set up in the historic Collierville Depot.
Also in August, the Memphis Modular Group introduces their YouTube channel, and memphismodelrailroaders goes live on Twitter.
October – The local chapter of the Train Collectors Association joins memphismodelrailroaders.com. This brings the number of local railroading groups represented to nine.
November – It’s another open house for local model railroading groups. A lot has changed since May. The HO and Garden clubs show off major expansions to their layouts. Check out this short video of the event.
December – The Casey Jones Chapter of the Train Collectors Association plays host to their biggest train show in years. This Web site and Social Media in general played a big role in increasing attendance.
Here are two very happy show attendees. One of them won this fabulous Lionel train set at the show.
These are just a few highlights from the many hours of work and fun put in by our members during 2017. We hope you will check in with us from time to time in 2018, as we look to highlight another successful year here at memphismodelrailroaders.com.
Happy New Year from Memphis Model Railroaders. We'll reflect back on 2017 more in a future post. For now, here's wishing everyone a great day, as the holiday season winds down, and a joyous, healthy and prosperous 2018.