All I can say about my first trip to the annual Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show in West Springfield, MA is WOW. It was huge! Spread over four large buildings that in the summer house cows and other farm animals for the Big E, this show has to be one of the largest model railroading shows in the country. In fact the slogan of the show is something like, if they are not exhibiting here than they probably no longer exist.
I hope that is not true of Backwoods Miniatures, one vendor that was on the exhibitors list that I really wanted to find but they were not there. Everyone else that I've ever heard of seemed to be there - Woodland Scenics, Bachmann, SoundTraxx, Bar Mills, Scenery Express etc. Plus tons of club layouts, tool vendors, Lionel vendors, American Flyer sellers and various "junk" or old stock sellers.
Visiting the show is a long day especially after a two hour drive and with a middle schooler in tow. There are food vendors but very little places to sit down which is a major problem with such a mature crowd and hard concrete floors with exhibitors spread over four buildings. Beer and wine is available for those inclined to take the edge of the day off with a brew.
Wise parents who obviously have attended the show in the past, outfit their kids with step stools so the kids can see the trains.
And there are tons of trains to see. I couldn't count the layouts on display from huge 100 car long industrial designs to scenic On30 branch lines to a show favorite Lego train layout. The layouts vary in quality with one stand out in being an On30 layout with a Cape Code theme.
If I could complain (it doesn't take much to get me to be critical), I would have like to see the used, antique dealers put into one area and the toy train (Lionel, American Flyer) put in their own area. As I inspire to be a fine scale model railroader, I really did not like wading through the toy train stuff to find things I was interested in. Also as an O scale modeler, its depressing having to wade through all of the HO and N scale stuff to find the small O scale offerings. Oh well I guess that is the life of the On30 modeler and why I subscribe to The Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette and not Model Railroader.
I'll post some photos soon but I don't expect them to be too good. The lighting was not good at the show and the crowds made it difficult to get a shot. I ended up buying a bunch of O scale figures and detail parts from a vendor (Crusader) that we found at the end of the day and bought a bunch of stuff from the Scenic Express booth that had just about everything from their catalog at the show.