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Model railroad show set to fill Massena Arena

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MASSENA - All aboard for the annual St. Lawrence Valley Model Train, Toy and Collectible Expo.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Massena Arena.

The show was once held at Norwood-Norfolk Central School, but relocated to Massena in 2010.

“This will be our third year at the Massena Arena. It’s going very well,” show Chairman and club Treasurer Thomas D. Jarvis said.

He said they held the show for “20-some odd years” at Norwood-Norfolk, but Massena offered more opportunities to attract vendors and visitors.

“Norwood is hard to get people from downstate to come to. Massena is much easier. It really helps bring people from downstate, and it’s closer to Canada. We have a lot of Canadian participation,” Mr. Jarvis said.

Visitors will find model railroads, but the tables will also include other hobbies. They’re expecting 10 train layouts and 70 vendors.

“We have actually sold out of space. The arena will be chock full of clubs from all over and vendors. We try to have a little smattering, primarily trains, but we have a couple of sports cards dealers, coin dealers, a couple of crafters for the ladies and a couple of toy dealers. We’re trying to be a little more general for folks,” Mr. Jarvis said.

Some vendors will be buying and selling, and others will be offering appraisals.

But there’s more, he said.

“Not only do we have club layouts and vendors inside, the Massena Arena staff provides food. We also have, which is a really nice calling card, a member who has a gasoline-powered engine. He sets up in the big oval outside on the hockey rink (in the Massena Arena annex) and gives free rides to all the kids, weather permitting,” Mr. Jarvis said.

“He’s done it the last two years. A lot of people don’t notice it because it’s off to the side,” he noted.

The show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $3, and children 10 and under are free.

Mr. Jarvis said the expo is their club’s one fundraiser of the year. This year’s event comes at a time when club member numbers are down.

“We have about a dozen active members. Probably about half of them are from Massena. We’re always looking for members,” he said.

“Model railroad sadly is something younger people aren’t involved in like they were. Membership happens to be a little bit on the older side these days,” according to Mr. Jarvis, who got into the hobby more than three decades ago.

“I’ve been hooked on model railroading for 35 years or so. I used to own the Norwood Hobby Shop years ago. It was primarily trains at that time,” he said.

The downturn in model railroad enthusiasts isn’t just affecting local hobbyists, Mr. Jarvis said.

“For model railroading in general over the years, people have had to give up their basement and bedroom to do it. A lot of people don’t have that luxury, that room, and it’s an expensive hobby,” he said.

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