The annual train show begins this weekend at Southern Ohio Medical Center's Friends Center on 18th Street, as part of SOMC's Hollydays event.
The show features railroad memorabilia, repair parts, collectible items, and a room full of displayed train sets to bring out the train enthusiasts in us all.
Chairman Mark Harris said the show began nearly 29 years ago with Dick Bonzo and Joe Knapp at McKinley School, and moved to the Friends Center about five years ago.
“It's growing and growing, until there will probably be about eight to 10 layouts running in here this weekend,” Harris said, as he pointed out one display that sat closer to the ground, for children to be able to see up close, adding, “We try to set up with a lot of operating layouts for people to bring their kids and grandkids out.”
Harris says he first became involved with the trains with his grandfather many years ago.
“I've always played with trains and we've sold them in our store (Toy Town/True Value on Market Street) for years, and the train show sort of kicks off our train season at the store,” Harris said.
Continuing in that same family tradition this year are Tom Russell and his grandson, Michael Russell, of Portsmouth.
The Russells have attended the train show for years, they say, but this is the first year they've participated with their own display.
“We've been coming out here as visitors ever since (Michael) was on my shoulders, pulling my ears to tell me which way to go,” said Tom Russell.
Grandson Michael Russell is 19 years old now, and a Marine Reserve - a long time since riding on grandpa's shoulders. He says he and his grandfather have always talked about setting up at the show, but never found the time before.
“He's had these trains ever since he was little, and ever since I was little, and we've always talked about it,” said Michael Russell.
The Russells say that it's just the love of the trains that brought them back each year, while others, like James and Beulah West, of Portsmouth, find another reason to be involved.
The Wests are in their third year participating in the train show, and say they enjoy the trains, but love to come out to see the look on children's faces.
“We like all of the trains,” said Beulah West. “He said last night we weren't going to do this, because we were getting too old. But we do it for the children.”
The show isn't all displays either. There are some vendors at the show as well, offering a variety of model train merchandise, from engines and cars, to antique lanterns.
In all, about three vendors and eight displays are setup in the Friends Center this weekend. Visitors can attend the show from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, with a $2 door charge. SOMC also provides people to prepare food and drinks to sell in the show.
All proceeds will go to Hollydays, Harris said.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.