BOXBORO — With a half century of Railfairs behind it, the Nashoba Valley Model Railroad Association is looking toward the hobby’s future.
More specifically, those who will be taking part in the future of model railroads.
At this weekend’s 54th annual Railfair, the club made a concerted effort to appeal to a young crowd, aiming to keep its passion going for years to come.
“None of us are as young as we used to be, so we need to get a new generation involved,” Nashoba Valley Model Railroad Association member Larry Robert said Sunday at the Boxboro Regency. “We’ve put this event out there on a lot of calendars of activities for young people and we’re hoping to see a lot of kids here.”
Roberts said on Saturday, the first day of the two-day event, many children were present.
The early goings on Sunday saw a steady stream of both kids and adults coming in to see model railway setups and to purchase goods to create their own lines.
At the center of the youth movement was Youth in Model Railroading of Lowell, a group that teaches those 18 and under the ins and outs of model railroads.
“I saw a group in Colorado like this in Model Railroader (magazine) years ago and thought it would be great around here,” said founder Steve Lamb. “I wanted to get my own kids into it and most clubs only will allow adults.
“It was a way to teach them and get them involved. Twelve years later, they’re grown and out of here, but the club goes on.”
Lamb says Youth in Model Railroading provides an introduction to the hobby and allows kids to “network with other kids who are into what they like.”
“All you need to get going is an engine,” said Lamb, whose club has 22 children ranging in age from 8 to 20. “You get a good base of knowledge and it’s a lot of fun.”
Youth in Model Railroading member Ryan Powers said he’s “casually” into the hobby, but has seen plenty of people become obsessed with it.
“We build a lot of things and end up with modules up for adoption,” Powers said. “It’s a good way to learn all about this stuff.”
Paul Stansel, an association member, hopes people of all ages continue to come out to the Railfair.
After having the industry event at the middle school in Ayer two years ago, he’s gotten positive feedback for having it at the larger venue in Boxboro.
“We’ll be back here again next year,” he said. “A lot of people love it and we’re glad to be here for them.”