Calling all toy and train lovers — All aboard! On Saturday, Sept. 24, the Indian Summer Toy and Train Show will be held at the Roxanna fire hall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The show is being put on by the Delaware Seaside Railroad Club, which also hosts a train show in Rehoboth Beach every June.
“We have had a summertime show for the past seven years. We’ve started in Millville, then went to Bethany and now every June we have a show in Rehoboth,” said Bill Mixon, a cofounder of the Delaware Seaside Railroad Club and organizer of the Toy and Train Show.
For a number of years, the club was housed in the Georgetown Railroad Station. However, this past year, a fire destroyed the station, along with much of the club’s equipment and other supplies.
“Everything was burned down,” explained Mixon. “We lost everything in the fire. We had no insurance, so we need some money to get started again. We need to buy some things; we need new equipment and rebuild our modules again. So we decided to hold a second train show.”
Admission to the show costs $4 per person, and kids 10 or younger may enter free of charge.
“At this show, we would like to have at least 300 attendees. After we net everything out, we’d like to come in somewhere around $2,000. We probably lost somewhere between $20, 000 and $30,000 worth of equipment and items that we had up there. We’re hoping that we’ll have a really good turnout.”
The show will be a family-friendly event, with more than 70 dealers selling toys and trains.
“They’ll be selling old trains, new trains. There will be other dealers selling toys, so it’s going to be kind of a mixed bag. It’s kind of like a craft show but with trains.”
He added that there will also be a train layout for kids to play with and enjoy.
“We’ll have our O-gauge modular railroad there. It’s interactive, so kids can push buttons and things happen. They’ll enjoy it.”
Mixon said the community response the club has received since the fire has been overwhelming.
“We’ve been fortunate; we’ve had some nice big contributions from people, different clubs who’ve given us $100, $200,” he said. “We had a woman from Magnolia whose husband passed away last April, and she and her sons decided that we should have his trains, and she donated his entire collection of trains and buildings to us, which total retailed over $15,000. What a great contribution!”
The club is also looking for a new location to meet and house some of their equipment.
“That’s our biggest goal right now, to find a place,” said Mixon. “We need a place where we can meet, where we can set up some trains, where we can continue our activities of educating the public, of teaching kids how to run trains and things like that. It’d be nice if anyone had a storefront or building somewhere around here that they’d let us use, because we don’t have a lot of money. That would be terrific.”
The mission of the club is to “preserve and promote the history and hobby of model railroading.”
“Right from the get-go, we decided that we wanted to be a club that didn’t just sit around and talk about old trains but actually did something for the community.”
The club has been active in the community for numerous years, annually setting up a train Christmas display at the Seaford Museum, installing a layout at the Selbyville Railroad Station, and also attending various train shows.
“People love seeing them. We’ve exhibited our trains twice at the Delaware State Archive, and they said that those were the two best exhibits they ever had at the archives.”
They have also been actively involved with children, from Girl and Boy Scouts, to offering after-school programs at local elementary schools.
“For four or five years, we took elementary school kids from the North Georgetown Elementary School into the train station, and they design and build from scratch a model railroad, and then we take it over to their school and these kids run the trains for the rest of the school.”
He added that most of those he knows who are model railroad enthusiasts got their love of trains when they were kids.
“I got into trains the way almost everybody did that’s my age — around the Christmas tree. Every Christmas, we’d set up the Christmas tree, get out the trains, set up a little platform. That’s where most of us started.”
Mixon, who’s train collection fills 60 Rubbermaid containers, said that the club currently has approximately 80 members, also noting that the club welcomes anyone interested in trains, whether or not they have their own set.
“We are an all-gauge club,” he added. “We have something for everybody. We welcome all new members who would like to come out. They don’t even have to have trains. They could just want to work with us. We’d love to have them.”
The Delaware Seaside Railroad Club currently meets on the second Tuesday of every month at the South Coastal Library. Dues cost $25 per year for a family membership.