- Associated Press - Sunday, January 10, 2016

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - For 9-year-old Wes Robison of Port Orchard, it’s hard to explain a love affair with trains.

“I just like them,” he says. “I’ve liked them since I was little. I like their appearance.”

He was at the Model Train Festival at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma in December with his family, including mom and dad Kellie and Justin, brother A.J., 5, and sisters Luci, 7, and Maddie, 11.

Trains, explained Kellie, are “a big deal” for her kids. “They have always been fascinated by them,” she said.

The fascination isn’t just for little kids. Gordy Gillmer of Spanaway and his 27-year-old son Travis were working in the exhibit of the Pierce County Lionel Club, set up in the museum entryway.

“It’s the visuals, the aesthetics. It’s mechanically based,” said Travis, who grew up tinkering with his dad’s model trains. Just don’t ask about the price tag - some of the engines can cost thousands of dollars.

“It’s like being an art collector,” added Gordy. “You just have to keep on collecting.”

While the Lionel Club and other exhibitors mostly featured miniature versions of historic trains, a more fanciful exhibit downstairs in the museum was built entirely from Legos, and featured characters from the Thomas the Tank Engine stories. Exhibitor Jaella Gilliam, 13, works at the City Blocks Lego studio at Freighthouse Square. She’s a walking, talking encyclopedia of all things Lego.

“I like to do the show to inspire people,” she said. Rather than having kids build Lego characters from kits, she wants them to explore their imaginations. That was the reason for the table filled with Legos as part of the exhibit.

“I want to let them build what they want, to be creative,” she said.

The festival also included exhibits from Kitsap Live Steamers of Port Orchard, the Mount Rainier N Scale group, the Boeing Employees Model Railroad Club, and the HO Modular Group from the Pacific Northwest Region of the National Model Railroad Association.


Information from: The News Tribune, https://www.thenewstribune.com

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