The old fellow handed me his card after I inquired about how I could bring a model train layout to the show I was at. I still got that card, but I never got to bring a train to set up there because the place where the show used to take place twice a year –the Wayzata Bay Center in Wayzata, MN- is closed up tight now awaiting the wrecking crew as it falls to urban renewal.
Irony of ironies, the mall served as a temporary home for the Minnesota Free-Mo modular model railroad club the last months it was open. *
Model train shows are largely dead now in the Twin Cities. The years now no longer see the Great American Train Show no longer fills the Roy Wilkins Auditorium at the Excel Energy Center in downtown Saint Paul thanks to –apparently- no longer being able to make ends meet. Ditto the train show that used to be held up in the northern suburb of Blaine at Northtown Mall, a show that, from what I gather (alas, I never went) spread across the entire mall until the year it was cancelled forever when Northtown’s management decided to bring in kiosks that would in turn ensure no free floor space remained for events like the model railroad shindig.
We are all the poorer for this. There was something to be said for, say, strolling into Roy Wilkins auditorium, enjoying all the trains of various scales as they raced about on their portable layouts, and browsing all the merchandise vendors had brought for sale. Or the magic of walking into the Wayzata Bay Center and strolling down to where all the trains and train displays were set up, saying hello to the regulars, and admiring their handiwork as the mall came alive for the weekend with something colorful and enjoyable.
Happily, the Twin City Model Railroad museum has kept the flag flying train show-wise because they still hold their train show and flea market twice a year at the Minnesota State fairgrounds, keeping the tradition of model train shows in the Twin Cities alive.