Model train aficionados hope to attract young enthusiasts

Thousand Islands Train Fair

CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - It's Aiden King's first time at the train show in Clayton, but he and his grandpa have been to other shows before.

He knows enough to know why he's drawn to model trains.

"The detail, the art of the realistic trains,” he said, “and how big you can make them."

There was no shortage of trains for Aiden to see in Clayton Saturday.

Trains of all sizes and speeds and decorations that were a little off the rails have been shown off at the Thousand Islands Train Fair inside Cerow Recreation Park for 33 years.

For Norwood Model Railroad Club president Jim Shaw, that's part of the fun.

"It's whatever your mind takes you to,” he said.

The show gives model builders and sellers a place to meet.

Jim Delucia has sold model train products at the event for around 10 years.

He says the show in Clayton is also part of a bigger effort to "keep the hobby going, that's what it's all about. It's starting to slow down a little bit and we don't want to do that."

Shaw says the reason for the slowdown is simple.

"It's getting very difficult to get young people to partake in it."

For Aiden, pursuing the model train hobby is a possibility, but there is something that might slow his roll.

"It's a yes and no,” he said. “Yes, because it's really fun to show and enjoy, and no because of how expensive it is."

Delucia is doing everything in his power to make the hobby an affordable one.

"Financially, I'm selling stuff for less than I paid for,” he said. “And that's true."

Despite the concern, officials from the club that host the show, the Watertown Area Railroad Club, say attendance has stayed steady at around 1,200 people or more.

Aiden says there are a few reasons kids his age would have fun with model trains.

"Well, by showing how their personality is, how much creativity they have."

It seems Aiden sees the same thing Shaw does about the hobby — and if more children do, too, model trains will keep chugging along.

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