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Train Festival 2009 - Owosso, MI

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  • Member since
    February 2009
  • 12 posts
Train Festival 2009 - Owosso, MI
Posted by bhopkins on Saturday, July 25, 2009 7:04 PM

Attended the Train Festival 2009, sponsored by the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, MI today.   Since many of us model the locomotives they had on display, I thought I'd post a few of the pics I took.  I hope you enjoy.

Conceptually, I knew locomotives were big, but until you're standing next to one of them, you really don't realize just HOW big some of these beauties are.

I was fortunate to get to tour the cab of Southern #6133.  Unfortunately, the lines were way to long to tour any of the other cabs.  But, it was still a great experience.

Southern #6133

Southern Pacific "Daylight" #4449


 

Pere Marquette "Polar Express" #1225

Little River Railroad #110

Leviathan #63

The festival had several model layouts -- one of the most interesting was one made almost completely of Legos.  Even the trains, which actually moved, were made of Legos and they ran on Lego track.


  • Member since
    September 2006
  • From: Wayne County Michigan
  • 678 posts
Posted by dale8chevyss on Saturday, July 25, 2009 7:22 PM

I don't know how many people attended this event (that are online via the forums) but I thought it was a disappointment. Highs included actually seeing steam locos that are NOT in museums, touring cabooses, free parking, ease of staffing and location, and looking at model set ups and such.  Lows included the high entry fee, trains were NOT moving and somewhat museum-like, the lines for the locomotives (to look at interiors) was so long it wasn't worth waiting for, also, we could not view the interiors of the passenger cars that were on location.  Since I went on a day it rained, many people were crammed in places that were covered (so it was difficult to view the model layouts) and I often was bumped into with dirty feet and dirty strollers.

 

Although the show was somewhat interesting, I don't plan on returning to the show in the future unless things change.  I could spend that $$ somewhere else (and I won't be crowded).   I am glad that vintage steam came together for a week thou- especially the daylight (which I've never cared a whole lot for albiet it is neat) so people can keep the hearitage alive.   

Modeling the N&W freelanced at the height of their steam era in HO.

 Daniel G.

  • Member since
    February 2009
  • 12 posts
Posted by bhopkins on Saturday, July 25, 2009 8:05 PM

My biggest complaint was the long lines to tour the cabs of the locomotives.  I think they could have done a bit better of a job managing the crowds for that.   As far as the entry fee, I hope the majority of that went to the SRI and is used for their efforts at restoring locomotives.  But, all in all, I enjoyed it and it was neat getting to see the locomotives up close and personal. 

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Flushing,Michigan
  • 822 posts
Posted by HaroldA on Monday, July 27, 2009 7:26 PM

I went to Train Fest on Friday and it was a rather frustrating experience.  I arrived in Owosso (a 20 minute drive) and didn't see any signs that said the event was being held.  So when I crossed RR tracks I thought 'got to be close' so I turned to follow those tracks and, of course I turned the wrong direction (again lacking signs).  I finally found these two guys standing at a crossing taking pictures and they ended up giving me very confusing directions to the high school for the shuttle bus.  Paid $5 to park in the school lot, and $5 to ride the bus which dropped me off 3 blocks away.  (Isn't there an expressoin about a fool and his money?)  Anyway, I was getting closer - paid $15 to get in and now I am into this venture for $25.  I really wanted to see the Daylight - it was gone - and the lines around everything else I wanted to see were very long.  The tents were very crowded and many of the display layouts were showing some signs of being packed and unpacked maybe one too many times.  The LEGO layout was very cool but little kids kept shoving me out of the way.  So, after about an hour, I walked the 3 blocks back to the bus stop, waited 30 minutes in the hot sun resulting in my red face, rode back to the high school, got in my car and drove straight to my favorite watering hole for a malt beverage. 

What I saw of it seemed to be just okay but I guess I expected something other than what it was and I think more could have been done to make it, at the very least, easier to find.  The highlight of the afternoon was the beverage. 

 

There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.....

  • Member since
    July 2008
  • From: fort gratiot, mi.
  • 134 posts
Posted by chpthrls on Monday, July 27, 2009 11:53 PM

I also attended on Friday after a drive of about and hour and a half. Having not been to Owosso in about 30 years, I had a little trouble finding the festival. However, unlike real men, I stopped and asked for directionsWink, and, voila! I was only off by three blocks. We parked on the street (free, thank you very much) and walked four blocks to the entrance. The weather was grand and the smell of hot lubricating oil and coal smoke was everywhere. I'm not a huge steamer fan, but the sight of six or seven locomotives, all with steam up, was pretty cool. We hung around until 4449 returned from its excursion and it was pretty incredible to stand beside the right-of-way when it rolled past. The biggest disappointment for me was the vendor tent. I didn't come away with any items because of high prices and poor selection. 1225 didn't have steam up that day due to a bad flue, but 765 did. The Lego layout was awesome with a model of the Fisher building in Detroit that stood at least six feet high! It wasn't my cup of tea, but you have to admire the work and planning that went into the display. The live steam small gauge layout was great and a hit with everyone who rode on it. All in all, I had a good day and while not converted to a steam guy, I'm thinking of how I can incorporate an excursion steamer into my modern layout.

                                                             Gerry S.

  • Member since
    June 2007
  • From: Indiana
  • 3,549 posts
Posted by Flashwave on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 12:53 AM

YYYEAAHH!!!

HaroldA

I went to Train Fest on Friday and it was a rather frustrating experience.  I arrived in Owosso (a 20 minute drive) and didn't see any signs that said the event was being held.  So when I crossed RR tracks I thought 'got to be close' so I turned to follow those tracks and, of course I turned the wrong direction (again lacking signs).  I finally found these two guys standing at a crossing taking pictures and they ended up giving me very confusing directions to the high school for the shuttle bus.  Paid $5 to park in the school lot, and $5 to ride the bus which dropped me off 3 blocks away.  (Isn't there an expressoin about a fool and his money?)  Anyway, I was getting closer - paid $15 to get in and now I am into this venture for $25.  I really wanted to see the Daylight - it was gone - and the lines around everything else I wanted to see were very long.  The tents were very crowded and many of the display layouts were showing some signs of being packed and unpacked maybe one too many times.  The LEGO layout was very cool but little kids kept shoving me out of the way.  So, after about an hour, I walked the 3 blocks back to the bus stop, waited 30 minutes in the hot sun resulting in my red face, rode back to the high school, got in my car and drove straight to my favorite watering hole for a malt beverage. 

What I saw of it seemed to be just okay but I guess I expected something other than what it was and I think more could have been done to make it, at the very least, easier to find.  The highlight of the afternoon was the beverage. 

 

Having been a volunteer there, I will forward this to Jason Johnson for ya, so TrainFest 2012 that either 261 or 4449 wants to host won't have quite the issue. It was mentioned by the locals as well, the idea was that the majorty of the draw would have been us onliners. We only averaged 9,000 people a day, 7 grand on Thursday, and the rest of the 36,000 the other 3. We did also need signs for the handicap lot at Chemical Bank across the river. Sorry you didn't find the better parking. That was left for the city to handle, since it was off SRI property. There was closer parking with Club Cars for $1, and City had a tent ou front the day after you were out there, probably to answer some of the issues you had. But parking went FAST.  It's a learning curve, sadly, and like theatre, you don;t find all the problems until there's an audience. And then, you still can;t get it all.

The schedules for the loco runs were thrown into the web, from there, it's up to the tides as to how they get distributed. Thurs/Friday the 4449 was out on the road doing the day train. People loved it there.

Regrettably, here's nothing that could have been done about the crowding in the tents. And the cabs are snug, they didn't want so many people in them that they were risking people being accidentally shoved out the side, and I don't blame them. I found a few nice things in the vendors, a Bachmann 4449 as 2101 in Chessie, a cute little tram engine dummy, and a Gratiot Valley club car. Personal opinion, the prices were standard prices, and at a show, that doesn't cut it. A good deal sells, but if they can get the same thing at the LHS, then they go there. Again, out of SRI hands, but good to note.

BTW, as of today, they had 1225's boiler face open today and were lining up how to test the flues. When the first one blew, the load was transfered to three or four others so hard and fast that they blew too. And though pipe 1 was weak, the others still had some metal on them, so everyone's concerned about what else was in the line of fire. They lost 60psi of steam in seconds though, so only 5 pipes in all were actually blown.

You guys missed 4449 picking the switch at 8 Saturday

PS: I hurt, but I highly enjoyed the show, even after walking 5 blocks from Baker.

-Morgan

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Left Coast
  • 519 posts
Posted by Left Coast Rail on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 8:27 AM
I didn't attend the event but after reading this post, I visited the event's website and easily found the following info in under 5 minutes:
Directions (including a map)
Local Transportation
Locomotive tour schedule
Sorry, but it is hard to justify the majority of the woes you experienced when the above info was readily available.
HaroldA

I went to Train Fest on Friday and it was a rather frustrating experience.  I arrived in Owosso (a 20 minute drive) and didn't see any signs that said the event was being held.  So when I crossed RR tracks I thought 'got to be close' so I turned to follow those tracks and, of course I turned the wrong direction (again lacking signs).  I finally found these two guys standing at a crossing taking pictures and they ended up giving me very confusing directions to the high school for the shuttle bus.  Paid $5 to park in the school lot, and $5 to ride the bus which dropped me off 3 blocks away.  (Isn't there an expressoin about a fool and his money?)  Anyway, I was getting closer - paid $15 to get in and now I am into this venture for $25.  I really wanted to see the Daylight - it was gone - and the lines around everything else I wanted to see were very long.  The tents were very crowded and many of the display layouts were showing some signs of being packed and unpacked maybe one too many times.  The LEGO layout was very cool but little kids kept shoving me out of the way.  So, after about an hour, I walked the 3 blocks back to the bus stop, waited 30 minutes in the hot sun resulting in my red face, rode back to the high school, got in my car and drove straight to my favorite watering hole for a malt beverage. 

What I saw of it seemed to be just okay but I guess I expected something other than what it was and I think more could have been done to make it, at the very least, easier to find.  The highlight of the afternoon was the beverage. 

 

  • Member since
    March 2001
  • From: Mishawaka, IN
  • 243 posts
Posted by jjbmish on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 10:45 AM

My wife and I attended on Sunday.  We drove up from Mishawaka, IN (about 3 hours southwest).  I grabbed the wrong map, but easily followed the signs once we got to Owosso.  Found the free parking lot and walked the 3-4 blocks to the festival.  The wife is not a train person, but she does enjoy train rides.  So we walked around the grounds checking things out.  Love to see the old steam outside.  Took a one hour train ride.  Had lunch.  Then spent the better part of the afternoon watching trains.  Small trains, 'O' scale live steam, model trains, full size steam engines, etc.  Talked to a couple of the volunteers who ran the show.  Met an absolutely wonderful train artist who does watercolors.  All in all a great day.  Sure it rained a little, but I don't think they can control the weather.  Besides it could have been 95 deg's with high humidity.  I asked when the next show is scheduled, and no one seemed to know when the next one might be.  They said this one had been taken 3 years to plan.  Hopefully they will have another show in the near future.  I know I will go.

 

John

  • Member since
    June 2008
  • From: Morrow, Ohio
  • 6 posts
Posted by CNRY55 on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 1:06 PM
I attended on Thursday, inspite of the rain it was a great experience. There were many railroaders in attendance and we all really had a good time. There seemed to be two types of folks at the festival: railroaders (CNRY, I&O, R J Corman, WWV, CSX and many more) And clueless foamers who stood on the wet rail and attempted to take photos of aproaching trains while standing in the mniddle of the track etc. There may never be another event of this scope and I am glad I was able to be at this one. The organizers did a great job.

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