Shows are the heart of our hobby
I sit at the Alsager Model Railway Show pondering the RAILstuff show season drawing to a close and am having a few moments to think back on all the events that I have attended this year and especially in the last few months.
The overriding thought in my mind is just how much the model shows are a critical part of our hobby, and crucial not only to the here and now, but also the future.
So what have been my show highlights of 2022?
1. Great Electric Train Show - Milton Keynes
This show while not a community/club event, had a fantastically friendly feel to it - and was absolutely packed to the gills this year. The event was at a great location and very accessible with a fantastic array of layouts and traders.
2. Stafford - Staffordshire Showground
Ok, so I'm a little biased with this being so local, but the size of the venue was staggering and the set-up so simple!
The show itself I think was a little down on attendees year on year, but with a vastly different date and slightly different venue it will take some time to get back to pre-pandemic highs.
Having spoken to the team behind the 2023 show they already have 55 layouts booked and it promises to be even better!
3. Buxton Railex - Pavilion Gardens Buxton
A 'new' show this one and wow what a cracker! A fantastic venue and a superb team behind it that really pushed hard on the marketing front to deliver a big crowd. I was lucky with a prime trading spot and had a better than expected weekend and met so many friendly folk along the way. I can't wait until 2023 already!
So, what about 2023?
Well, I plan a small break from shows what with 'Mini RAILstuff' on the way over the winter, but as of Spring I plan to be hitting the show circuit hard again... even travelling to some new shows in the process... (watch out Scotland!).
My final thoughts centre around just how important these events are to the hobby.
They are an opportunity for inspiration - not only for existing modellers but also for those just thinking about getting in to it.
Layout quality is key, but so is trader quality.
RAILstuff aims to be something a bit different that brings a unique range of specialist products to consumers with friendly advice along the way.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my visits to shows this year and look forward to being back on the road next year.