Annual train show in Wallingford still drawing crowds, venue to shift from Zandri’s

Annual train show in Wallingford still drawing crowds, venue to shift from Zandri’s

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WALLINGFORD — Brimming with excitement each time the model train chugged by, 3-year-old Helden Karp can already point out some of the mechanics that allow the miniature trains to loop around on the tracks.

“He loves anything that’s moving, anything that makes noise,” said Steve Karp, his father.

The young boy was able to show off all he had learned from Thomas the Tank Engine during the family’s visit to the 35th annual Train and Toy Show at Zandri’s Stillwood Inn on Sunday.

The trains for sale and on display dated as far back as the 1920s and ’30s, said Ludwig Spinelli, who organizes the event with his family through Classic Shows LLC. The approximately 85 vendors who attended brought trains, rails and bridges, signs, lights and miscellaneous accessories.

Spinelli said the older, American-made trains are his favorites because of the craftsmanship that’s allowed them to stay in good shape through the decades. 

“They operate well and they’ve stood the test of time,” he said. 

Half a century after production stopped, Joseph Lodonico, of Port Chester, New York, stood by his Schuco Disneyland monorail set as it continued to circle through a little village and a mountain tunnel as children watched. The set was released in 1965 to be sold at Disneyland but was too expensive to be successful at $27.

“It’s unique and you’re not going to see it again,” Lodonico said.

Sunday’s was the final show at Zandri’s, which is in its last year as owner Jim Zandri winds down the business to retire. Spinelli plans to continue the show at the Best Western in North Haven next year, as well as a second show he holds every February in Trumbull.

After seven years of selling toys at the show, John Einstman, of Norwalk, said it has developed a good following thanks to a low admission fee and easy to reach location. “It’s been a good turnout,” he said. “We got a lot of families that come here.”