Trading trains: Biannual local Scalefest swap meet offers variety

All aboard! The Alto Model Train Museum Association’s next annual toy train swap meet is pulling up to the platform.

Twice a year, the association sponsors a meet, otherwise known as a “Scalefest,” and the next one is taking place March 9 at the Blair County Convention Center.

The shows benefit the museum, a nonprofit and educational organization, according to a press release, and is the one of two major fundraisers, the other is the display at Holiday Lights on the Lake at Lakemont Park, said Gregg Miller, the Alto membership chairman.

The train show is the largest between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

It attracts at least several hundred visitors, spokesman David W. Seidel said.

The show is “very popular, especially among older adults, anyway, but we’re trying to get the kids interested, as well,” Seidel said. “It’s always been well worth everybody’s effort to go there. You have vendors there, as well as private individuals, and it’s not just store stock and that sort of thing, because one of the things that’s very enjoyable at these meets is to dig into the used equipment boxes that’s under the tables and see what you can find.”

Ron Kennedy, vice president and show organizer, said the show will have new and antique items, and operating train layouts on display.

The attraction to model trains is “nostalgia in one sense,” Seidel said.

Many of the enthusiasts are “serious collectors, if anything. I know train collectors, for instance, who … specialize in a size … and they have home layouts in many cases where they are elaborate works of art in engineering, quite frankly, in how they operate. They strive to make some of their layouts look as real as possible in every sense of the word. You’ll have the toy train collector who’s in it just for the pure enjoyment. You’ll have the series collectors and modelers, and some of those fellas do it to scale size, which is an actual replication of the real railroading experience.”

People enjoy bargain hunting, and the last train show had 152 tables for the buying, selling or trading of trains, Miller said.

“I hope they get to talk about the hobby, get to see people about the hobby, maybe find something to add to their hobby,” Miller said.

Another meet is scheduled for Oct. 12.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.