While there are a lot of people in and around Memphis who like trains, area train shows do not tend to play host to the same crowd sizes enjoyed by shows in other parts of the country. A crowd of fifty to seventy-five people is typical. Things changed a bit this December. Helped by an enhanced give-away prize for kids and a heavy push through both social media and traditional channels, this year's TCA Casey Jones Chapter-sponsored holiday train show saw a lot more visitors than usual - way more, actually. We estimate final attendance, including accompanying guests, at between 175 and 200. That is a big show for this area. Many of these visitors were both "first-timers" and families with kids, just the kind of people needed to help any hobby continue to grow and prosper. If it proved one thing it is that despite all the activities, entertainment options, and technologies vying for everyone's time, people around here still like toy trains.
The main attraction for families (or at least the kids in those families!) was likely the prospect of winning this John Deere-themed LionChief starter set from Lionel; more on this later.
Chapter President Bill Autry (in green on the far left) wraps up a short business meeting for local members. The clock on the back wall says it is time to open the doors.
Members and other early shoppers look over the merchandise and hard-to-find parts offered by several TCA vendors before the show really starts to crank up. The vendors travel in from all over the region and really go to a lot of effort to participate in our shows. We would not be able to have a show without their support.
Meanwhile, over in the Kids Club area we find grandpa and grandson, and father and son. This scene is the epitome of quality family time on a Saturday morning. Kids Club host Liz Kelly is in the background making sure there are plenty of treats and activities for the kids.
The looks on their faces suggest a "win-win" outcome was achieved.
Of course, a train show is nothing without the trains. Under the Christmas tree we find passengers rushing to get home behind a set of postwar Erie Alcos, while Santa Fe 212 speeds through a town on the Ron Williams Memorial Layout with a short merchandise train in tow.
And finally...the highlight of the show: a random drawing was held for a John Deere LionChief train set from Lionel (compliments of the Casey Jones Chapter and Midsouth Hobbies). Tickets were given to kids 12 and under who attended the show. Forty-three kids took part in the drawing.
Germantown resident Sam L poses with Chapter Treasurer Richard Gonzales after stopping by to collect the prize for his very lucky grandson, 6-year-old Joshua.