ERWIN — There is little doubt of the historical significance of the railroad in the town of Erwin.
This, along with presenting an opportunity to promote Erwin’s downtown business district, led to the decision to hold the first Model Train and Railroad Memorabilia Show in downtown Erwin.
The event is being hosted by the Johnson City-based Southeast Regional Train Center and will be held Saturday and Sunday at the Erwin National Guard Armory, located on South Main Avenue.
Gary Cameron, director of the SRTC, said vendors from a five-state region will be on hand at the show selling model train components in all scales, and will have other memorabilia in the forms of photographs, books and articles.
The event will also serve as the first public display of an in-scale train layout constructed by the Knoxville Area Model Railroaders.
“There’s a lot of support,” Cameron said. “There’s certainly a lot of vendor support.”
While a group in Asheville, N.C. puts on a similar event in late winter, Cameron said the Model Train and Railroad Memorabilia Show marks the first such event to be held in this area.
“What we want to do is put one on in East Tennessee in the fall and kind of complement what they’re doing,” Cameron said.
On Saturday, the Erwin Downtown Merchants Association will also have a sidewalk sale to coincide with the show.
“We picked Erwin because it’s the home of the Clinchfield,” Cameron said. “This is an effort to promote Erwin and to promote the downtown area. We want to try to take this opportunity to bring people from all over the surrounding states to let them see Erwin and try to move them downtown as much as we can.”
Cameron said organizers are hoping to attract around 1,000 visitors and said the event will be the largest of its kind in the state. Cameron also said there is a strong interest for not only railroad history in this area, but model railroads as well.
“This area offers more to model railroaders and rail fans than any other area in the Southeast, including Atlanta and Charlotte, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga,” he said.
The show will be from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. The cost of admission is $4 per day and is free for children ages 6 and under accompanied by a paid adult. These passes will be sold at the door.
A limited number of half-price admission passes are also being sold. The $2 price for passes covers admission to both days of the event. They are being sold at the Choo Choo Cafe on North Main Avenue in Erwin, the HobbyTown USA stores in Johnson City and Knoxville and the Train Shop in Marion, N.C.