The Prince Albert Model Train Show returned to the Gateway Mall this weekend for the second time in the former Staples space.
Brian Randall, club president of the Prince Albert Model Railroaders, said the show helps the club support themselves in the coming year. Fellow enthusiasts from around the province who came to support this show lets the Prince Albert club travel to other shows.
“It’s to help support their shows,” Randall said. “It’s kind of a small community we have, so everybody gets to visit with each other.”
Clubs at the show this year included Regina, Moose Jaw, Melville, Martensville and Saskatoon. Randall said there are many clubs around the province, and travelling to each show can get hectic. The club was glad for the chance to stay home this weekend while still putting their creations on display.
The Club used to host the event at the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club for about 15 years.
“Then when COVID came, that shot everything down,” Randall said. “We were in that for about three years. The club itself was still active, but as far as the shows, you couldn’t do anything.”
The first year that they returned was in the Midtown Hall.
“We just had a small show there and then last year was our first year here,” Randall explained.
Randall said that the space was excellent for putting on a show of model railroads.
The club had been a part of the space for the Optimist Winter Wonderland. That came about because Vince Parker of the Model Railroaders is also an Optimist Club member.
“They asked us if we would help out with it, because Vince is actually a member of the Optimist Club,” Randall said. “They have done their two years for Winter Wonderland and we have been here for both.”
Despite the trains being small, the model railroad setups take up plenty of space. Randall said his own life led to model railroads becoming a hobby.
“I used to work on the railroad, my father worked for the for the railroad and so that’s what got me into it,” he explained.
The Prince Albert Model Railroaders have been around for 20 years. At one point, there were as many as 20 club members, but that’s dropped down to six since then.
Randall said several factors caused membership to decline, but COVID-19 was a big one. When the pandemic shut everything down, club membership dropped to four people.
“Four of us were just basically covering all the costs with rent and everything like that, just to keep the club alive, so it was expensive by a couple years for us,” Randall said.
Randall added that he was happy to see that the club survive and put on the show.
“We’re really just glad that everybody’s coming out. It’s a good family event and we are getting a crowd,” Randall said.
“The Mall did lots of promotion for us and we want to thank them for it. They gave us a spot here for our show.”
The Winter Wonderland space allowed them to keep the space pleasant.
“We have still got the Christmas lights on and everything. The kids will be able to still do the train ride,” he said.