OLEAN — As Paul Hessney grabbed a steam engine toy train from a box in his Olean home Friday, he spoke of the locomotive’s significance in history.
Hessney, who is one of the chairmen of the Autumn in the Southern Tier Train Show on Sunday, provided updates on the event that will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Olean Intermediate Middle School on Wayne Street. Admission for an adult without a child is $5 at the door, and $2 for children ages 5 to 12. Food and snacks will be sold by the Whispering Mountain Lodge business.
Hessney said a goal of the sixth-annual show is to teach children and adults of all ages the history of trains in the country through the toy models. He said the love of trains often begins at an early age for many people.
“Little kids just love toy trains, I’ve seen this with my own kids and grandchildren,” Hessney said.
“I know that little kids are fascinated by real trains as well … but they get to an age of 6, 7 or 8 and they see the electronics and the screens, and that’s what they become addicted to.”
Hessney, a retired teacher and member of the Olean City School District Board of Education, said another important aspect of the event for children is that it can spark interest in S.T.E.A.M activities.
“I think this is the real appeal to this hobby, that trains combine a lot of different aspects” of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, he said. “They’re not only nice to look at, they’re hands-on and they have live action.”
He said the show will have activities for children of various ages, including a display that will give smaller children an opportunity to operate trains on a track.
There will also be numerous prizes for attendees to win.
“We will have lots of door prizes and give-aways for folks of all ages,” he continued. “We’ll have two train sets (to win), one is a Thomas the Train set, which is new” and will have a drawing at noon. He noted participants must be present to win the drawings.
In addition to Olean, Hessney said toy train collectors and vendors will be from communities that include Jamestown, Wellsville and Buffalo, as well as Emporium, Bradford and Warren in Pennsylvania. The event will display, and sell, the collections of approximately 35 vendors.
Funds raised from the event will go back into the non-profit organization, which has the purpose of preserving the hobby and history of toy trains. Co-chairs of the event are Phil Geer of Allegany and Russ Allen of Wellsville. Officials with the Salamanca Rail Museum are also involved in the event.