Mall secures long-running train show

Officials pursued the show after it lost its site of 20 years.

An annual train show that has drawn thousands of people to Hara Arena for the past two decades is moving to the Upper Valley Mall this fall.

The Dayton Train Show is in its 41st year, and has been at Hara Arena for the past 20 years, said Gail Richardson, who is helping organize the show. The event features clinics, demonstrations and more than 400 tables and has drawn as many as 4,500 enthusiasts from across the U.S. in the past. But Hara Arena closed earlier this year, and Upper Valley officials stepped in to host the event in the former Elder-Beerman store.

The former Elder-Beerman space is about 70,000 square feet, while the show at Hara occupied closer t0 89,000 square feet. But the available space at the mall makes it a good venue to host a variety of large events and will be a good fit for the train show, she said.

“It’s a great idea to make it into a venue,” Richardson said of the vacant department store space. “There’s not a venue in the area going clear to Cincinnati until you get to Columbus that’s big enough to hold us,” she said.

Train enthusiasts have flocked to the show in previous years, but it’s also a good fit for families who are looking for something new for a day, she said. Along with vendors selling new and used trains, antiques, parts and accessories, the event includes large layouts showing various trains and demonstrations on train maintenance, layout construction and other classes.

“We will have clinics there teaching people how to make trains from scratch or how to put scenery on their layout,” Richardson said.

The event will also bring foot traffic to area businesses, said Brenda LaBonte, the mall’s general manager.

“I’m delighted that we’re going to be able to host that show,” LaBonte said. “Area shoppers are truly going to enjoy it and it will be one of the largest shows in the area.”

Hara Arena is expected to host its last event this month. Arena officials said a 20-year family and legal battle drained the site of the resources for needed renovations and reorganization. Various venues in Clark County have sought to attract events and activities that the arena used to host.

Local officials have said hockey teams that used the ice at Hara for practices and games have reached out to the NTPRD Chiller Ice Arena in downtown Springfield looking for a new home. And the Champions Center at the Clark County Fairgrounds is installing a new heating system, and officials there have said they plan to try to attract some shows Hara hosted.

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