A long-running model railroad show in East Texas is taking a station stop.
Bill Pyle, chairman of the 2015 Longview Model Train Show, announced today that the show won’t go on as planned in March because of “circumstances beyond my control.” He said notifications are being sent to vendors and clubs who were scheduled to participate at the annual show hosted by Junction & East Texas Train Society (J.E.T.T.S.). The event was set for March 7-8 at the Fairgrounds Exhibit Building.
Pyle, one of about a half-dozen of the original organizers, decided Tuesday to cancel the event, which has annually attracted vendors and model railroad layouts from Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. While he didn’t elaborate on specific reasons, he said that declining attendance in recent years has been an issue.
For years, the show was well attended and a source for locals to buy and sell trains. At its peak around 2008, more than 2,000 attended at the Fairgrounds Exhibit Building in Longview. In recent years, the numbers dropped, even after the city’s primary model railroad supplier – Homer’s Model Railroad Supplies – closed up shop. Last year’s show drew about 1,500, Pyle said.
“We’ve steadily fallen off,” he said. “It’s because of the internet. The availability of trains on the internet has a whole lot to do with it.”
Pyle is unclear when the show began but estimates it was about 19 years ago. Homer Fleischer, who operated Homer’s Model Railroad Supplies before selling it a few years ago, organized the show until turning it over to Pyle around 2011. J.E.T.T.S. originally hosted the event in a handful of conference rooms at a hotel on the outskirts of town off Hwy. 31. After a couple of years, the show moved to the Fairgrounds where it occupied a 27,000-square-foot hall through last year.
Pyle has fond memories and doesn’t rule out a return in 2016, but did not commit to organizing future events.
“Any train show to me is to bring in the modular layouts and have the kids come in and see it,” he said. “You see their eyes light up. That’s the big thing.”
Pyle plans to attend January’s Dallas Area Train show to personally speak to many of the vendors who were scheduled to be at Longview.
“Everybody is real disappointed because they had a real good time at longview train show,” he said. “We went out of our way to treat everybody as best we could.”