Full steam ahead: Delavan Train Show set for March 11-12

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Xavier Ward
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

DELAVAN—The annual Delavan Train Show is making a return downtown Saturday and Sunday, and organizers expect guests to have their hands full with a number of new activities.

The show, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2017, has doubled in size since last year, and directorial duties have changed.

In addition, this year's event will feature a trackless train that attendees can ride, 42 different exhibits and a trolley to cart visitors from place to place, show founder Brad Deschner said.

Exhibits featuring intricately designed model trains will pop up in various businesses throughout downtown to offer kids a chance to learn a little bit about railroads. Those who visit the show's epicenter—the American Legion, 111 S. 2nd St.—can order a beverage of their choice and have it delivered by train car, Deschner said.

Deschner and his wife, Sara, started the show 10 years ago because their son Kyle had a deep interest in trains. Kyle, now 16, still helps organize the event, but other interests occupy his time, as well.

According to Deschner, it's not just train aficionados who come to the show. People of all ages and varying interests also visit, he said.

When the show began, it had one location, and the Deschners had to practically beg exhibitors to attend. Now they are excited to take part, Deschner said.

“We've been very lucky in being able to recruit exhibitors,” he said.

Exhibitors come from Madison, Milwaukee and Rockford, Illinois, along with other surrounding towns and cities, Deschner said.

Since last year, Deschner has considered stepping away from the show because his son has grown older and the show has become more difficult to manage, Sara said. In response, the Delavan Train Show Committee was created to help alleviate some of the pressures of putting on the event.

Now, the Deschners have more of an advisory role, Brad said.

Ryan Schroeder, a city alderman and train show committee chairman, said he took on the project based on how strongly community members responded when he asked them how they felt about the show.

“In years past, prior to this, I was just a spectator,” he said.

Schroeder said he got on board for the same reason as the Deschners: his kids. He said they really enjoy going to the show, and he didn't want that to stop.

Schroeder also said he believed if the show stopped even for one year, regaining the momentum and restarting the next year would be difficult. If the show were canceled, he thought, “not only are my kids going to be disappointed, but so would a lot of other kids in this community.”

Schroeder said he was happy to see how many people came together to help organize this year's event. Many of those people were simply community members whose children enjoy the show, he said.

Other business owners also have done their part in taking over some of the technological aspects of the show such as creating a hashtag that will live-stream photos into a photo contest, Schroeder said.

Train show attendees can post photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag “#DTS2017” to enter.

The winner will be given a free night's stay at Comfort Suites in Delavan, Schroeder said.

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