VAN WERT — Jack Laubisch and his wife Shirley drove from the Cincinnati area to set up their tables at the Railroad Heritage Weekend model show and swap at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday.
The modest collection of various model trains and cars is carefully curated and priced with the hopes of finding buyers.
They’ve been coming to this show for the past six years.
“We were so happy that at least we had finally a model railroad show because as everybody knows, they’ve been virtually shut down because of the pandemic and for us, this was our first show in five months,” Jack Laubisch said.
After a great day of sales Saturday, the Laubish’s were hoping to finish things off Sunday with even more sales.
“A model railroad vendor will always say unless you sell a million dollars worth it’s no good, but it was surprisingly good in spite of the fact that it had been over that long period of time. It might also have been the fact that because there had not been any shows (until now),” Jack said.
Chuck White, the organizer of the annual train show, said this year’s event brought in around 230 vendors, which is up over last year, but fewer people turned out.
“We’re probably about as much as 40% fewer people than last year,” White said.
But he’s heard about some big sales from vendors.
“We had one guy yesterday from the Columbus area who buys stuff at the shows. As I understand, he puts them on eBay and he makes a nice living doing that. He probably spent between $4,000 to $5,000 yesterday (Saturday),” White said.
Each year there are several model train displays. Last year there were seven major displays, this year only two groups were able to make the event,
Steve Glass with the Northwestern modular railroaders has been involved in the hobby since he was 15. He’s now 55 yearsa old.
“It’s fun to see the crowds. It’s fun to see the look on the kid’s faces — talk to other modelers about processes and how you do stuff and there’s always something new going on,” said Glass.
The event itself is in its 17th year and is a fundraiser for the Van Wert Historical Society.
“I understand 20- or 30% of their annual income is from this show,” White said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.