Choo Choo Bob’s organizes big train show at RiverCentre


One of more than a dozen electric model trains set up at the Saint Paul RiverCenter on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013.  The event was organized by Choo Choo Bob's, a local train store and children's TV show. Elizabeth Dunbar/MPR News

Electric model trains and those fascinated by them have taken over the Saint Paul RiverCentre this weekend for the largest event ever hosted by local train store Choo Choo Bob’s.

The store, whose owner also started a children’s TV show with the same name, has held events for the past few years in Eagan that draw several thousand people. But store manager Casey Jones said high interest in trains combined with winter break for kids and availability at the RiverCentre, giving Choo Choo Bob’s an opportunity to try something new.

“It came about to fill a need we felt in our local railroad community to have a much larger train show,” Jones said. “We felt there was a good opportunity to have a family oriented event the weekend after Christmas while people were looking for stuff to do together.”

Kids play on a train at the Choo Choo Bob's Great RiverCentre Train Show on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. Elizabeth Dunbar/MPR News

Jones said with enough interest, the RiverCentre show could become an annual event, but he said the Eagan shows are expected to continue.

The show runs today and Sunday from 9-5. Admission is $8 (a $2 coupon can be found on the store’s website), and children age 7 and under get in free. Kids can enjoy live performances by the Choo Choo Bob Show cast, three bouncy castles, Thomas the Tank Engine play tables and free train rides.

More than a dozen electric model train sets were on display Saturday morning with detailed scenery, and train buffs browsed tables where vendors sold everything from fake trees to train engines to train-themed calendars.

Organizers are hoping for good turnout, especially because trains have such broad appeal, Jones said.

“There’s a nostalgic component to it. They’re so deeply ingrained in American history and folklore,” he said. “There’s something really mesmerizing about them.”