OGDEN — The eyes of adults and children followed the trains weaving their way through intricate model layouts of countryside, construction sites and metropolitan areas.
The 23rd annual Hostlers Model Railroad Festival was full steam ahead.
“It has a lot of detail,” Sam Hansen, 10, of Syracuse, said while looking at a layout with his father, Dave Hansen. The two attended the festival for the first time Saturday as part of a father/son outing.
Today is the last day of the three-day event at Union Station, 2501 Wall Ave. Festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. and wrap up at 3:30 p.m. Admission is $6 per adult, with ages 12 and younger getting in free.
Organizers were expecting 8,000 people at this year’s event.
Its attraction is a combination of the model train layouts, a variety of vendors and the ambience of the historic Union Station, said Mike Murphy, festival chairman and president of The Hostlers Model Railroad Club.
“It all works,” Murphy said.
And the railroad history of the Ogden area and the state helps, he said.
It also doesn’t hurt that the model train group is able to provide a visual of that history at the festival in the form of nine model train layouts, the largest of which has a 175-foot circumference.
“We’re just limited by space,” said club member Steve Markos.
The three-track line layout — with two tracks run digitally and one conventionally controlled — could have been even bigger with the additional sections they have available, he said.
But while the three-track layout is the largest display at the festival, children seemed mesmerized by the 1 million-piece Lego train layout.
A line of kids wrapped around the 30-by-27-foot Lego layout featuring two trains cutting a path across a variety of Lego land themes, as well as an elevated commuter-type train resembling the TRAX line in the Salt Lake Valley.
“I think we have all collected Legos since we were kids,” said Provo resident Reed Cowan, of the Utah Lego Users Group. “I’ll bet my train collecting started with a train under the Christmas tree 20 years ago.”
Many attending the festival appreciated Cowan’s efforts.
“My kids love Legos,” said Clinton resident Chris Adams, whose four children, ranging in age from 2 to 9, were just a few of the kids taking in the display, now in its fifth year at the event.
The honor of longest train went to Scott Jesienouski, of the Color Country T-Trak Club of St. George. His layout featured a train of 111 cars.
It takes four engines to pull the train around the layout containing scenes from Southern Utah, Jesienouski said.
And when the children weren’t looking at model trains or crowding the table to receive a paper conductor hat from Operation Lifesaver volunteers, they were outside the exhibit hall, either riding on a miniature train set up in the station’s parking lot or climbing on the full-sized trains parked in the yard.
“I like going into the caboose,” said Morgan Miller, 9, of Bountiful.
Morgan, attending the festival with her grandparents, Guy and Emma Dugal, also of Bountiful, preferred climbing on a real train versus looking at a model train.
Children also gathered to ride the miniature train.
Before the three-day festival ends, more than 1,000 people — mainly children — will have each paid 50 cents to ride the mini-train, said Dotti Stowell, with the South Weber Model Railroad Club.
If children are too small to sit up in the ride by themselves, Stowell said, parents can accompany them.
“No age limit. No weight limit,” Stowell said about riding the mini-train cars, each of which can hold up to 1,100 pounds.
Stowell said she didn’t think people would be deterred by cold weather.
“They stand in line in the rain to ride this thing.”