33rd Annual Open House

Model trains everywhere!  My husband is an model train enthusiast and works with HO scale trains.  He belongs to the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club located on the “state line” in Delmar Delaware.  Every year, the club opens its doors to the public on 4 weekends for their annual Open House.  Visitors come to view the train displays, and see the various scales of trains running.  The club has 8000 square feet of train displays, so much more than the home hobbyist can manage.  All scales are represented, and there seems to be “something for everyone”.

I typically spend those four weekends at the front door, greeting visitors and handling the sales of raffle tickets for those inclined to purchase them.  Each year there are 3 terrific train sets and 3 winners.  This year they have added 3 additional prizes, with tickets for 4 to the Strasburg Railroad.

Yesterday was the first day for the 33rd season.  There were 496 visitors. While not a “record setting number”, it was a significant amount, considering it was pouring rain all afternoon.  The club will be open to visitors on Sunday, Nov 25, 2018 from 12 noon until 4 pm, and again on Saturday, Dec 1st (11 am – 4 pm) and Sunday Dec 2nd (12 noon to 4pm).  After New Years there are 2 more weekends, Jan 5 & 6, and Jan 12 & 13 2019.

                                               33rd Annual Open House Delmarva Model RR Club

The club is located at 103 E. State Street in Delmar DE 19940, on the second floor of Camelot Hall.  There is plenty of free parking behind St Stephens UM Church.

I am always interested in how people hear about the Open House, as we have many 1st time visitors every year.  Social media is one way, and word of mouth is another way.  With a very small advertising budget, the word seems to spread.  Yesterday there were visitors from all over the mid-Atlantic. We have a lot of “repeat” visitors, some who attend EACH weekend.  Because there is so much to see, it is hard to take it all in at once.  They often say they see something new with each visit.  Since the admission is free, why not?

I thought I would share a few photo’s with you in the event you are unable to visit!

This is a picture of some “new this year” buildings on the O Scale layout –

new buildings on the O scale layout

On the HO layout one of our new members has built a train of double stack cars.  He had to make improvements to the many tunnel portals on the layout in order for his “high loads” to traverse the many “rail miles” and not hit a tunnel roof !

Waterfall and bridge on HO Layout

The HO layout is the most extensive layout at the club.  It is an “OPERATIONS” layout with many industries.  Every car on the layout has a purpose and that is identified by the “car card” and “weigh bill systems” in place. The HO layout members have an Operating Session once a month, and folks come from Baltimore Maryland and Philadelphia PA  to participate.  It takes a minimum of 15 operators to have a “good session”.  They operate a “fast clock”, and the dispatcher issues train orders, etc. The HO layout is signalled and has track detection and operates with DCC (Digital Command and Control) .

Signals are working

Coke ovens on the HO layout

There is something for “everyone” at the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club and whether you are a “serious model railroader” or a person who just likes to see the trains going “round & round”, it is a delight to see.

Do feel free to share this post with others who might be interested!  Find us on Facebook and like the page !

More information about the club, including membership information, can be found on the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club website .

 

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How do you measure success?

At the end of the day, as we left the Apple Scrapple Festival with an SUV loaded with boxes, my hubby asked if I thought the day was successful.  It is difficult to measure when you aren’t really there to “sell” a product.

Apple Scrapple is just a month ahead of the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club annual open house, and it is such a great opportunity to promote our coming event. It is FREE advertising for the club.  (One of our members RUNS the entire craft show and allocates the club a 9×13 booth space for no charge).

So, I figured the measuring stick was the open house brochures we passed out.   We took a case of 1000 brochures for our upcoming open house. (There were maybe 50 out of the top of the box when we started).   We brought back about 1/3 of the box.   Hubby printed out 210 “labels” with info on an EXTRA RUN (more about that in a minute), and every brochure with that EXTRA Run label was handed out.  I can say for certain, that we spoke to OVER 210 people.  My “guess” is we handed out something like 700 brochures, so I think it was a successful day.

All set up and ready for visitors

People would see and hear the trains running and walk over to the table to watch.  Usually they were in groups of 3 or  4.  The men were attracted because they had been “schlepping around the craft show” carrying bags for the wife.

(I am a people watcher, and most of the men would stand at the edge of the booth while the wife, mother, daughter etc looked at the various craft wares.  They were bored.)  (It’s a good spouse who will wander the craft show, but then…I’m sure those wives have done their bit at car shows, fishing shows, etc) (Please don’t be offended gentlemen if you happen to LIKE craft fairs…this is strictly my observation and conclusion with no facts to support my particular point of view.)

When the men got to the train layout the eyes would light up, and they got to chat with the club members, and we were not “hustling them” to buy anything.  Then the women would wander up, and look at the “display” more so than the trains.  It gave us an opportunity to talk about both areas of interest.

We would hand an Open House brochure to someone in the group, inviting them to come see the “big layouts” at the club.

2017 2018 open house flyer

Overall, for a week & 1/2 worth of work getting this display ready to go, I was really pleased with the reactions it brought during the day from the public. By the time you put the buildings on, the trees, the vehicles on the streets and parking lots, and get some trains moving, it starts to look like a nice little town.

Double track

This little 4×8 train layout was built on a Styrofoam base with a plywood bottom and sides. That is what we started with the first week of October.  In my previous posts, I talk about the scenery, track, etc. After we had it all set up, we added plexiglass around the edges to keep the fingers away from the trains.

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We took our 2 big open house raffle prizes to showcase.  We have a Polar Express and a Harry Potter set to raffle, and I was surprised that we sold a few tickets.  Not a lot, because that wasn’t the point, but some.  My point with the raffle tickets is to “show off” those great prizes, and not hustle sales.

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We had the special Maryland Delaware box cars, and sold a couple of them. (These are available on the club website if you are interested in one, and not in the area).

I took along my train “pillowcases” and sold 3 of them. That was all “bonus” in my opinion.  If we had a separate booth with more space for display, I imagine we could have sold more, and could have brought other items from the club to sell. Oh good thing we left those wooden train whistles at the club!

The member of our club running the craft show was pleased with our set up.  It “slowed” people down near the back of the cafeteria, and as they wandered away; they stopped at the food booth run by his church and family. A win/win for all of us I think.  His son is also a club member, and he did the big job of transporting the 4×8 layout and the saw horse it sits on.

I think we met our purpose, achieved our goal, and will encourage the members to do this again next year. We’ve had a few years without the train layout at the festival, and people “LOOK” for it. Of course, I wore the hubby out pushing to get this ready and to “do” this festival.   I took the lead and did all the planning and coordinating, list making, 75% of the loading and unloading; and a smaller % of the tear down and reloading. We had 10 folks show up during the festival to help with the “passing brochures”, talking to the public etc.

Now, it is time to unload what we are storing at home, and sort what needs to go back to the train club this week.  We have to get ready for NEXT Saturday, our EXTRA RUN, when St Stephens UMC has their Fall Festival.  The church asked the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club to open for the festival. This is a first for the club. The club is very grateful to be located on the 2nd floor of the church fellowship hall for the last 32 years!  So, if you missed seeing our little 4×8 display, take a run to Delmar DE and enjoy the St Stephen UMC Fall Festival, and come upstairs and check out the over 8000 square feet of layouts!  I’ll be there, at the front door, greeting visitors, selling raffle tickets and inviting them back for the annual open house season.