A Season Without Train Shows

In a normal year, this would be the first day of the fall train-show season. I’d be in the car right now, with a load of T-Trak modules and gear, on the way to the fairgrounds in Syracuse. I’d spend the afternoon dragging folding tables into position, shimming them up into some semblance of levelness, spreading tablecloths, laying out modules and cables, and building a railroad to run in public all weekend. I’d be doing the same thing next weekend, and several weekends after that, right into mid-December.

But this is 2020. None of that is going to happen. Everything is cancelled.

November, normally the busiest month on the calendar, is empty this year. December has one small exhibit we’ve arranged to do, a modest modular layout in an American Legion hall, and a virtual NMRA convention. That’s about it. Yeah, I’m already missing the bustle and excitement of the fall shows, but I’ll make a confession:

Part of me is glad to take some time off from the show scene.

I love running trains. I love sharing them with audiences. I love the thrill of the hunt for bargain finds and unique items on vendor tables. I love putting on a club shirt and being with my tribe for a weekend. But along with those things come others I don’t enjoy so much. I don’t like hassling with show organizers for decent space. I don’t like beat-up, wobbly, swaybacked tables. I don’t like awkward extension-cord routings. I don’t like nursing my favorite trains over the dubious trackage on other people’s modules. I don’t like explaining for the umpteenth time why checking gauge, coupler height, and car weight is so damned important. I don’t like the mad scramble for parking spaces and hand trucks at teardown time. This year, I get a break from all that, too, and I’m grateful.

I can fill November with other things, like NaNoWriMo, baking, and module construction. I can do some prep work for the December events we have planned. I can stay home and make progress on the train projects that already clutter my workbench. I can dream about 2021. So that’s what I plan to do.