Invitation to Display at Hartford

Bob Hamm

As a new member of your group let me introduce myself. My name is Bob
Hamm. I am a very active HOn3 & HO modeler of some 48 years. My
interests revolve around a prototype modeling of the Rio Grande and the
Rio Grande Southern in the late 1930s including operations at the
Montrose dual gauge yard.

But I am digressing from the perhaps more important aspect of my
posting. I am also the relatively new NMRA National Contest Chairman
having taken the post in January of 2007. Since that time I have tried
to add events and activities that would be attractive and enjoyable to
folks that don't care for the traditional judged contest. In Anaheim we
added the People's Choice Awards, a direct entry, minimal paperwork,
popular vote affair and the Model Showcase, again a minimal paperwork,
display-only event designed to facilitate sharing models and modeling
ideas. Both were well received but not well attended, I think because of
a lack of publicity and a generally low attendance at the convention.

We are continuing the expansion at Hartford. In fact we are changing the
name to a "Celebration of Models, Photos and Crafts" to reflect that
broader scope. Most notably I am expanding the Model Showcase activity
at Hartford to invite entrants to come and sit (There will be plenty of
tables and chairs.) with their models to chat, explain, give and seek
advice on problems, and generally show them off. Any kind of model(s)
(focused of course on railroad models), complete or in process, from
largely commercial to completely scratch built are welcome. Likewise any
numbers of models from one to a hundred are welcome. Again in my mind
this approach is one of the best ways to share the hobby.

Now since I touched on numbers of models, let me talk about entry forms
and paperwork. Being responsible for the security of all entered items
in the room I do need to keep track of what's there and what's not.
However, I only need to know the builder's name and the models name (car
type, road & number, just something to identify the model). I am more
than willing to accept a preprinted or written list of models if someone
wishes to bring in a large number. There is no reason for any long,
involved form for this event, nor is there any reason for an entrant to
make out 25 entry forms to bring 25 models. One with a list of models
should do it.

To help accentuate the activity we are planning to focus in on Tuesday
with an "Afternoon of Meet the Modeler, Photographer and Crafter" to
help convention attendees plan their activities. The Showcase also
includes railroad photographs and craft items, which are also important
activities. We will also be holding the judged model and photo contests
as well as the People's Choice pop vote contest, but all will be run as
parallel events will in no way diminish the status of the Model
Showcase. In addition to Tuesday of course folks are more than welcome
to be with their models all week except maybe on Wednesday when the
judging takes place, but only to keep the noise down.

Let me tell you a little about myself and how this all evolved. For many
years I have been active in the NER as an avid model builder, clinician
and contest entrant & judge. I went through the AP program and hold MMR
#322. But I also discovered that the true joy of model railroading is
not the trains themselves but how we as modelers share our interests and
the friends we make by doing so. I became NER contest chair some seven
or eight years and discovered that while I enjoyed the activity there
were those that did not and in fact were quite opposed. (There were a
series of letters published in Model Railroading magazine and a few came
out in the NER Coupler.) I am totally apolitical, and my response was
typical of my philosophy. Okay, the contest is not everyone's cup of
tea. How can we accommodate these good folks to provide alternative
modeling activities to foster modeling discourse? A late night session
sampling single malt with some friends from the Central New York
Division provided the answer in the form of the Model Showcase, which
had been a successful part of their division meets for years. I
immediately initiated it at NER conventions where it has become a well
received part of our program.

Fast forward to my appointment to head the national contest after Ray
Bilodeau passed away in late 2006. Adding the Model Showcase along with
the People's Choice Awards was a no brainer for me. Why not? We're a big
organization; we can embrace a number of different model events that
appeal to different folks. Now as time went on and particularly this
year as I started to plan for the Hartford event I began to realize the
extent of the riff that had developed between the NMRA and a number of
other groups regarding the contest. My response was simply, I'm sorry
that that has happened but I simply want to move ahead with a very
inclusive program that will accommodate a wide range of modeling
philosophies. The NMRA BOD, also very concerned with those difficulties,
not only approved but has shown tremendous support for the enhanced
program. My point here is that the current program as I have outlined it
has been whole heartedly supported by the NMRA BOD but not driven by it.
It grew from within the walls of the contest room by myself and others
who feel it is simply the right thing to do.

To sum things up, the reason for this posting is to extend a very
sincere and cordial invitation to everyone in the group to join in the
Celebration of Models at Hartford and beyond. I would also like to
solicit your suggestions as to how we can make this and future events
more enjoyable.

Bob Hamm

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