Great Batavia Train Show gets even bigger
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Great Batavia Train Show gets even bigger

Mar 21, 2018

BATAVIA — “It’s hobby that can take on a life of it’s own.”

Not what you’d expect from the chairman of the region’s largest hobbyist programs, but Mike Pyszczek, the chairman of Sunday’s The Great Batavia Train Show, says the “moderation in all things” mantra fits even model engineers.

“Most people that are life-long model railroaders have had the bug for a long time, and they do it in moderation,” said Pyszczek.

What the Genesee Society of Model Engineers isn’t limiting is the scope of their semi-annual show. It will be the first major show at the new Richard C. Call Arena at Genesee Community College, with expectations of more than 2,000 visitors to the 20,000 square-foot celebration.

“It’s a significant increase, a full-third bigger there,” than the Quality Inn, which Pyszczek said has been a wonderful host in past years. “The facility at GCC was built for this kind of event.”

Advertised as the “same great show with more tables, more vendors and more trains,” the GSME found use for the added space quickly. There was a backlog of vendors ready to offer everything from the latest from Lionel — which recently added a model version of the famed New York Central Niagara steam locomotive — to collectors ready to downsize.

Pyszczek said that while there will be active demonstration displays, the main purpose of the show is to connect the hobby’s suppliers and merchandisers with the people who love it.

“Some train shows stress more of the layouts and that sort of thing, but our show has always been focused on people who were in the hobby or want to get started in model railroading,” Pyszczek said. “We have a few display things there, but our focus is really on the sale of hobby-related materials.”

To the attendee either wanting to start their own collection, or seeking a gift, Pyszczek advises walking around the show before getting down to business.

He says buying a few things at once, and then evaluating how you will lay them out, is better than trying to do it all at once. There’s a fall show, scheduled for Nov. 11, if you get home and already want to go bigger.

The Genesee Society of Model Engineers will reach its 50th anniversary next year. Based in Oakfield, the organization opens its club house to visitors every Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. but looks forward to the “Great” gatherings.

“We’re one of the premier hobby events in Western New York,” Pyszczek said. “People don’t miss the Batavia show for any reason — that loyal following helps us. We have a good reputation.”

Pyszczek said the popularity of model railroading owes much to the history of rail in the region. The merger of the New York Central into Penn Central predates the club’s formation by a year, but the density of tracks here had few equals.

“Batavia has a very rich history of railroading,” Pyszczek said, noting the Empire State Express setting the then world land speed record as it made a 1893 run from Batavia to Buffalo. “Certainly we’ve been able to grow and remain active in the Batavia area because of the fact there’s a lot of people who are model engineering or train buffs.”

Admission to The Great Batavia Train Show is $6 for adults, $3 for those under 18 and free for those under 13. Parking on campus is free, and a concession stand will be available inside the arena.

By JIM KRENCIK, The Daily News

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