That indescribable magnetism that draws man to machine extends itself to miniatures of the real thing when the Great New York State Model Train Fair rolls into the Empire Expo Center/New York State Fairgrounds for the 36th year on Saturday and Sunday, November 6 and 7. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
It is one of the largest events of its kind in the Northeast. The Model Train Fair typically draws some 6,000 people every year. While most come from Central New York, visitors also come from other parts of New York State, southeast Ontario, Pennsylvania, and New England. Model trains are often on people's minds this time of year in anticipation of Christmas. November is also "National Model Railroad Month." The Model Train Fair attracts young and old, men and women, who come to marvel at miniature versions of prototype trains; learn how to build model railroads; or shop for collectibles or products to enhance their own model worlds.
At the Model Train Fair, one quickly learns that there are many aspects to the hobby. There are multiple scales on display -- from the tiny 1:160 N-scale, which can fit in the palm of a hand, to 11/2 inch gauge trains on which people ride. The most prevalent scale is HO at 1:87 scale. Lionel-size "O" scale
(1:48) is also popular. But you also discover that interests also vary as to the realistic "model" railroads to the "tinplate" high-rail. There are collectors, and there are operators. Some people incorporate elaborate
scenery; others just like to lay track and watch trains go by.
The Model train Fair uses 158,000 square feet of exhibit space in two of the largest buildings at the Empire Expo Center -- the Toyota Exhibit Center and the Americraft Center of Progress Building. More than 30 operating model railroad layouts are on display, and more than 100 vendors bring model railroad-related products to sell.