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Train enthusiasts gear up for Christmas at annual Westminster Toy Train Show

Pressing his face close to an extensive train layout, Devin Preston seemed fascinated by the intricate details of the Westminster Toy Train Show's moving locomotives. Preston, 7, was one of more than 1,000 attendees during Sunday's event.

"Any time there's anything to do with trains, we're on board," said Devin's mother, Donna Heil, of Taneytown. "Devin has always been interested in how things move. This is our fourth year and he always looks forward to it."

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According to organizer Richard Liebno, the Westminster Toy Train Show has been an annual event for 12 years. The show hosts about 100 vendors selling everything from N scale to O gauge.

Jim Patterson, who said he has been selling trains since 1971, said the show comes at a perfect time because "Christmas time is train season."

"People are really interested in tracks to get the season started up, "said Patterson, of Silver Spring. "They get tracks so they can run them around their trees."

Patterson said moving accessories are also popular at the show.

"They're looking for steam engines that puff smoke and have a choo-choo sound," Patterson said. "They also enjoy action pieces like barrel loaders and cattle loaders. That's what the children like. My grandsons love to operate those."

Patterson said his father got him into the hobby. His father had a train set and Patterson would get one or two items to add to it every year.

"We would get catalogs in October and we'd go through and pick something out," Patterson said.

Patterson said he is most interested in American Flyer trains because that's what he had as a child.

"You can do an awful lot with them," Patterson said. "The details and scenery can be more realistic."

Baltimore Area American Flyer Club member John Moore said he most enjoys the train sets' details and scenery.

"Small details like using a tractor tire as a flower planter or putting a blue cover on an antique car makes it more interesting for someone to look at," said Moore, of Middletown. "If they look close enough they'll notice those details and start looking for more."

Vendor Tom Gartner, of Mount Airy, said he's been interested in trains since he was 12.

Luke Bower, 2, of Taneytown, watches trains pass by at the Westminster Toy Train Show sponsored by the Deer Park Lions Club at the Agricultural Center in Westminster on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016.
Luke Bower, 2, of Taneytown, watches trains pass by at the Westminster Toy Train Show sponsored by the Deer Park Lions Club at the Agricultural Center in Westminster on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. (Alan White / Carroll County Times)

"The train history of this area is fascinating," Gartner said. " You can replay that history in your basement."

Gartner said train shows are "great for families."

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"The majority of the people that come to this show are train enthusiasts,' Gartner said. "They've got it in their system and now they're getting their grandkids hooked on them."

Sharon Russell, a Baltimore Area American Flyer Club member, said she's been hooked on trains "as long as I can remember" and the Westminster Toy Train Show is "so much fun."

"So many children are enjoying the trains. It's a family affair," Russell said. "Train layouts are something families can create together all year round. They learn about electricity and carpentry and they can create a miniature realities. Imaginations can go wild!"

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