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Venue revisited: Great Midwest Train Show

York County Fairgrounds in York, Pennsylvania all decked out for the big event.
York County Fairgrounds in York, Pennsylvania all decked out for the big event.
Photo by: Tim Weigard

Since 1972, the Great Midwest Train Show has been held every second Sunday (with a few exceptions) at the DuPage County Fairgrounds in west suburban Wheaton. This being the week before the Eastern Division of the Train Collector’s Association (TCA) hosts the legendary train show known simply as York, it’s always a good idea to check in at Wheaton to see who’s coming through with what.

Many dealers will snake their way across the country heading in the general direction of the world’s largest toy train show in York, Pennsylvania, selling at smaller shows along with way. They’ll also be looking to scoop up rarities, because York’s the place to show them off to deep-pockets buyers. How much money changes hands during this 3-day biannual event? Let’s just say that to take part in the unsanctioned ‘bandit’ shows dotting this Colonial era city the entire week before the main event opens on Thursday you’ll need a Pennsylvania State Sales Tax Number. It’s that serious.

Back to Sunday’s Wheaton train show. There were some newbie dealers in the mix, but no one from outside the tri-state area. A couple of local TCA members may have been trying to raise capital for the pilgrimage to the train collector Mecca called York. Others may have just needed the extra cash in a down economy. Money did change hands, to be sure, and there were plenty of deals to be made.

Your Chicago Treasure Hunter stuck around Wheaton so long, in fact, that he didn’t even bother showing up for the final day of the downtown Naperville estate sale reported in this column Saturday morning. That makes for a very positive statement as to the pickability and general quality of goods you’d have found at the Great Midwest Train Show. Next show’s scheduled for May 2nd, a week earlier than normal to clear the calendar for Mother’s day. You don’t have to join a club to come in, like you do to attend TCA train shows, so I’ll see ya there!