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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Train Show rolls into town




by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

Youths – and the young at heart – marvelled at the intricate model train displays set up inside the Essex Recreation Complex over the weekend as Heritage Essex hosted one of its largest fundraisers of the year.

  The annual Essex Train Show is the largest of its kind in Southwestern Ontario, attracting enthusiasts to set up intricate – and interactive displays – for everyone who attends the event to enjoy, thanks to the exhibitors.

  Six clubs were onsite, each contributing a display at the show, including the Windsor Modular Railroad Club, the London N’Gineers Model Railroad Club, the Essex County Model Train Club, the Chatham Model Railroad Club, the Essex Railway Station, and the Strathroy Model Railroad Engineers.

  Children even got to step inside their imagination and dream of becoming a conductor as they controlled the model trains via remote, awestruck.

  Model railroading, and having an interest in trains in general, has always been popular with youths. And for many, is something they continue to hold as a passion into adulthood. And those who have had a life-long passion for trains were eager to ignite interest in the hobby with the next generation of future engineers.

  Gary Clark of the Chatham Model Railroad Club was one of the exhibitors onsite, fine-tuning the details around the track on his club’s display. He remembers being fascinated with trains as a kid, which brought him into a career as a train engineer.

  He noted his club currently has around 20 members and they enjoy getting together once a month.

  Marnie Aldridge, Administrator at the Essex Railway Station, was pleased with the turnout at this year’s Essex Train Show. Around 500 enthusiasts visited the event on Saturday, which was encouraging, and the fascination with the hobby continued with good foot traffic on Sunday.

  The event moved back to the Essex Recreation Centre this year. She said many were happy with the location. Many vendors were able to set up onsite, selling an array of wares, including model train pieces.

  In addition, a kids’ zone was offered at the show, allowing youths a chance to get creative.

  Heritage Essex maintains the historic Essex Railway Station. It helps to preserve local history.

  On May 7, 1873, the very first train rolled into Essex Centre on the tracks the Canada Southern Railway began to lay just a year earlier. The local rail line, which significantly contributed to Essex’s growth and led it to earning town status in 1890, was removed in 2012.  

Aldridge was grateful to the support from visitors who made donations to show extra support, and to the individuals, businesses, and organizations that also donated.

  Looking ahead, Heritage Essex plans to host a family fun day in August.

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