Some local discussions about what is the largest train show in U.S. always brings up that biggie in Massachusetts. Believe it is early spring but cannot recall the location. Would appreciate the following info from any "in the know":
When? Where? Who sponsors it? Usual attendance? How many days?
For starters, that's an interesting way to spell Massachusetts (see header). LOL Secondly, the "big" show is the Amherst Railway Society's Annual Big Railroad Hobby Show at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds (The Big E) in West Springfield, Massachusetts. It's usually held at the end of January/beginning of February. The next show is Jan 28 & 29, 2006. Usual attendance is around 16,000 to 22,000 for both Saturday and Sunday combined. It's in three buildings, using over 4 acres of display space.
My first Big E show was about 1991, when it was only one building. Since then, it has grown quite a bit. But the show first started in Amherst, MA (IIRC). It was just your typical, small town RR show. And now it is one of the most important train shows in the country. In fact, Model Retailer, an industry trade magazine, listed the Big E show as the 2003 most important show to manufacturers, as most of them display there. Atlas, Athearn, Walthers, Kato, Overland, Bachmann, Kalmbach, Broadway Limited, Mike's Train House, Badger, Aristo-Craft, Microscale, City Classics (free plug!), Digitrax, Lenz, Dynatrol, Jay-Bee, Intermountain, Branchline, Dallee Electronics, Miniatronics, Del-Aire, Albion Software, Tichy Train Group, Funaro & Cammerlingo, Stewart/Bowser, Charles Ro/USA Trains, Highball Graphics, etc. Those are just the ones I can recall off the top of my head. From those that have been, it's bigger than than the NMRA national show & bigger than Timonium in NJ. There is some question if the Chicago or Milwaukee show is bigger, but since I don't know how big those shows are, I can't say. Either way, it's a great show...
Paul A. Cutler III
************* Weather Or No Go New Haven
For a number of years probably the biggest and best shows in the country were some of the scale-only shows held at the Timonimum, MD, fairgrounds. Although held in two buildings and having a total sales floor area less in size than Springfield, certain of these two day shows drew as many hobbyists as Springfield does now. Further, they only allowed scale equipment to be sold so there was not tinplate stuff to compete with.
Also to be considered in size by volume of attendence is the National Train Show held in conjunction with the NMRA's annual convention. It also normally draws 20,000+ individuals.
For me the absolute best shows ever were the Tinomium ones held in the late 1980's, the like of which I have never seen approached since. At a single time and place you could find examples of virtually everything that had ever been offered in the hobby from the earliest days up to the present time. Unfortunately, the show has changed dramatically over the years and this is certainly no longer true.