Frank Sinatra was a fan. So is that lovable everyman, Tom Hanks.
Chances are, whether you realize it or not, you probably know somebody who’s a fan of toy trains.
While it’s not sure how many actual rail fans there are in the U.S. — one estimate a decade ago put the number at nearly 200,000 — the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds will be chock full of them this Saturday and Sunday.
The 46th Model Train Show, presented by the San Joaquin Valley Toy Train Operators, will get underway at 10 a.m. each day in Building E-2, going until 5 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission is $10 — children under 12 are free — and there is no charge for parking.
“We like model trains of all scales,” said club president Jack Smith. “We like the large G scale trains all the way down to N scale and Z scale, which are very small. We like watching them run, repairing them — some people that may have had trains for a while come to us to see what we can do to fix them.”
The club is about more than just model trains. Members like the real ones, too. They recently took a trip to Sacramento on Amtrak to visit the state railroad museum.
There will be 144 tables set up at the show with 44 different vendors, selling all things train-related. A food truck will be on site providing barbecued fare.
“Between admission and table sales, this is our big fundraiser for the year,” Smith said.
If you’re interested in becoming a club member, you can search out any member of the club — they’ll be wearing the green club T-shirts — and ask about joining. It’s $50 per year, for the entire family.
“We meet once a month, the first Sunday of every month, except for holidays, then it’s the second Sunday,” said Smith. “We also have a workday every Thursday at 10 a.m. at our clubhouse in Denair.”
Smith said it’s not a mandatory workday.
“We work on layouts, fix trains … it’s rather informal,” said Smith. “If people want to run their trains and the layouts are operable, they can. Mostly, we sit around and shoot the breeze. And then we all go to lunch at Footers in Turlock.”