Model-train expo charms fans of all ages

SundayXtra - - CITY & DISTRICT - By Ash­ley Prest

THERE was more than model trains at the 2015 Man­i­toba Mega Model Train Show. Just ask Justin Owens.

Sure, four-year- old Justin checked out most of the 17 lay­outs of trains, tracks, minia­ture land­scapes and towns at Red River Ex­hi­bi­tion Park, but some­thing else caught his eye.

“Air­planes!” said Justin, who was ex­am­in­ing a large dis­play of model air­craft with his mom, Bobbi. “I like trains. I like the big one.”

Justin was re­fer­ring to the 7.5-gauge train that was avail­able for young­sters to climb on and take a free ride around an en­closed area. About 40 ven­dors were on hand selling train-themed pic­tures, kits, lay­out ac­ces­sories and his­toric mem­o­ra­bilia.

Held in­side the ex­hi­bi­tion hall at the Red River Ex grounds, there was a Lego dis­play in ad­di­tion to the model trains and planes, face paint­ing and bal­loon art.

Ray Kin­drat of the Win­ntrak Model Rail­way Group said the model-train en­thu­si­asts set up at events like the Mega Model Train Show six or seven times per year in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions around the city.

“It takes us about two hours maybe to set up. We’ve done it so of­ten, it’s sec­ond na­ture,” Kin­drat said.

The 30-mem­ber Win­ntrak club is hav­ing a grand open­ing this Satur­day at 10 a.m. for its new club­house at the Prairie Dog Cen­tral’s Inkster Junction Sta­tion.

The show oc­cu­pied the 17,000-squarefoot hall at the Red River Ex grounds with plenty of space for rides on a kid-size train that cir­cled the ven­dors’ area.

“We went last year, but this is so much bet­ter here (new lo­ca­tion). There’s so much for the kids to see, and ev­ery­thing is eye-level for them,” said Chris­tine Butcher, who came to the show with her hus­band, Dan, their daugh­ter Tay­lor, 6, and their son, Hud­son, 4.

“Like the po­lar bear,” Hud­son said, re­fer­ring to Assini­boine Park Zoo’s fa­mous bear that has the same name. “Yes, I know him.”

Hud­son had to mull it over for a few min­utes when asked which was his favourite train at the show. Dan stepped in to of­fer as­sis­tance.

“Hud­son, you liked the train that had the Win­nipeg Jets (hockey team logo) on it, didn’t you?” asked Hud­son’s dad. “Jets!” shouted Hud­son. Bet­tina Pfeif­fer and her hus­band, Nor­man Wieser, were volunteering at Win­ntrak’s raf­fle ta­ble selling tick­ets to win a model-train lay­out with pro­ceeds go­ing to the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal.

“We found it (model trains and lay­outs) is a hobby we can do to­gether. He’s in­ter­ested in the elec­tron­ics, and I like to build things,” Bet­tina said, not­ing they’ve been part of Win­ntrak for three years.

“We saw a model rail­road mu­seum when we were in Ger­many a few years ago, and we were so en­thralled with it. When we came back, we hap­pened to be flip­ping through the Lance and saw the Mega Train Show. We came out to see it and talk with these guys, and here we are.”

The show con­tin­ues to­day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

TREVOR HA­GAN / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Justin Owens checks out a track at the an­nual Man­i­toba Mega Train Show at Red River Ex­hi­bi­tion Park Satur­day.

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