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Trainfest 2023?

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  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Morristown, NJ
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Trainfest 2023?
Posted by nealknows on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 4:40 PM

I was at a local train show in NJ last weekend and I overheard that Tranfest is not happening in 2023 and will return in 2024?

Can anyone in the know confirm that?

Thanks!

Neal

  • Member since
    March 2017
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Posted by Track fiddler on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 5:14 PM

Good evening

Huh, haven't heard anything like that, so wouldn't have the foggiest notion about that one Neal.  But would think our kind friend Steve-O would know if that's true or not, more than anyone would.

Been wanting to go to Trainfest one of these years for years, and leaning towards this year, so hopefully they dont skip it.  I'd think after covid cancellations, they'd want to keep things rolling now.

 

TF

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Posted by maxman on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 5:40 PM

Looks like next one will be 2024:

https://www.train-fest.com/

 

  • Member since
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  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 11:37 AM

I thought I had posted this news on one or another of the existing Trainfest threads but evidently it did not "take."  Yes it is official that there is no Trainfest scheduled for 2023.

This is what I have heard: the guy who ran the show last year (which was well done I thought) has some other issues coming up this year that need to be dealt with, and Trainfest is a huge drain on time particularly if you don't have a big staff.  I also heard that he'd like to find a different venue as he had some difficulties dealing with Wisconsin's State Fair Park something I sure understand because that was a challenge for our NMRA Division when we ran Trainfest.  For example the parking situation this last show in 2022 was absurd  with cars backed up for blocks because the State Fair Park had abruptly decided not to accept cash, only credit cards for parking (which is very expensive), and the kids running the parking lot didn't seem to know how to work their machines.  Ditto for the food concessions, which are not only expensive but awful. 

We too were always looking for other venues but there was always a serious problem with inadequate space, or no good ways to stage the set up, and reluctantly we always felt we had no real choice, particularly when we saw in 2010 what happened to the NMRA and its national train show at that year's national convention in Milwaukee with their choice of venue.  It was a disaster in terms of attendance.  Well we tried to warn the NMRA but they were not good listeners ...

Dave Nelson

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Posted by mbinsewi on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 1:18 PM

Thanks Dave.  Yes

Mike.

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Thursday, March 16, 2023 6:28 PM

Well this is certainly disappointing to hear.  Last November was my first time going and so maybe I just didn't know any better, but the concession food was more or less what I expected it to be: passable (in more ways than one) and somewhat overpriced.  But I didn't care. The lines inside the venue to get into the hall were long at opening time but moved pretty quick.  There was a short wait in the car to get into parking but I didn't experience anything I thought was terribly inconvenient.

The TF site says attendance was over 20,000....?  (It also says it was a "huge success...")

I'm sure the devil is in the details, but I have a hard time seeing how an event with that many attendees would be dropped.  (Could they possibly have lost $ with that kind of attendance..?..)  I'm sure its a gargantuan effort to put it on, and not cheap or easy to deal with the State Fair people.  So maybe there was some behind the scenes grumbling from exhibitors?  I don't know.

Not sure what other venues would be a possibility for the show either.  Off the top of my head I can think of the old MECCA/Convention Center downtown (parking nightmare!), and the Waukesha Expo Center.  I bet if you wrote down the pros and cons of all of these places State Fair Park still comes out on top or maybe just below the Expo Center.  Parking downtown would be an absolute disaster.

Edit: I made a slight revision after realizing I mis-read Dave's earlier post.  

Andy

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Posted by AEP528 on Friday, March 17, 2023 7:05 AM

Maybe it was simply that the people at Kalmbach who put the time and effort into it  said afterwards, "I don't want to do that again."

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  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
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Posted by dknelson on Friday, March 17, 2023 11:02 AM

I don't think Kalmbach is the reason.  The actual running of the show was not something they were doing, although I am sure their excellent contacts within the manufacturing part if the business helped a lot, and they have always had an important presence at Trainfest and been a huge friend to Trainfest.

Is it possible to have 20,000 in attendance and still lose money or just barely break even?  Darn right it is.  In fact it happened.  The hall is hugely expensive -- I remember at set up every light that was turned on was an extra charge, every restroom door that was open was an extra charge, every electric outlet that is used is an extra charge.   That is why set up was so darn dark and so few restrooms were available! But advertising is a huge aspect too. You do not get 20,000 people at a train show by advertising in Model Railroader and other magazines and leaving flyers at hobby shops.  That might get you 1000 or 2000 people.  The rest are TV ads radio ads and billboards.  Huge expense -- well into six figures -- AND you sign your contracts in early summer.  That is partly why there was no Trainfest in 2021.  

The other thing is, when our NMRA Division ran Trainfest we had hundreds of volunteers including a solid core of perhaps two dozen who really ran the show.  The 2022 Trainfest was more bare bones on staffing but what they did have, were people who were presumably being paid.  So I suspect the head guy did a tremendous amount of work himself and while he is experienced at putting on large train shows, perhaps many aspects of putting on this particular train show in its venue and with its features was rather new.   Again I want to emphasize that a  great job was done but it is not hard to imagine personal and business issues quite apart from financial issues that explain this year off.

Dave Nelson

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