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RailCon '96 Review

I wish I knew how to convey to you the myriad images and experiences I took away with me from RailCon `96. I could relate a series of dry numbers and statistics but you can read those in the Puffing Billy Tournament results elsewhere. Better, I think, to leave you with a few of my more treasured moments which might allow you to see how enjoyable a time I had at RailCon `96.

But first, I would like to make you folks aware of some of the more instrumental people without whom RailCon `96 would have failed.

There is no way that I alone could organize and run a four day convention and associated rail tour by myself. It would have been folly to try. As it was, it was exceedingly difficult to make arrangements from two thousand miles away. So, I brought on board a professional meeting planner to act as the liaison between the various tourist attractions, the hotel, and the TGA. And what a wonderful idea! Robin Hartwig was and is (as she helps plan `97's events) a lifesaver and a dear friend. Because of other commitments (i.e., someone had to stay home with the children while my husband gallivanted about the countryside in rail tour bliss), I had to trust to my husband, Kris Marquardt, and Bill and Elaine Wordelmann to ferry and chaperone our rail tourists. Kris did all the driving of the van and they all had way too much of a good time. Many people came forward to help conduct at RailCon. Again, Elaine and Bill--thank you. Many kudos to Jay Tummelson for dealing with the paperwork. And without Peter Bromley whose patient minding of Puffing Billy Central, I would have been a wreck.

Now for the impressions (in no particular order) ...

Yes, almost exactly the same number of people attended RailCon `96 as did RailCon `95. And yes, there were many repeat attendees--people whom I delight in meeting over and over, again. Yet, I was glad to see many new faces to the RailCon `96. Many wonderful new faces.

The Banquet and awards ceremony was a blast. We held it in intimate style in the hotel restaurant and at one point joined a wedding reception in the adjoining courtyard to dance YMCA (we have a don't ask, don't tell policy so don't ask although Dave you still haven't given me my dance). Equally special was the chance to have Federico Vellani attend the banquet and speak to us a little about Italian train gaming. He and I have made the first tentative steps towards seeing a TGA style train tournament in Europe in the next five years.

Todd Vander Pluym, 18xx gamer extraordinaire, qualified for his first time ever in the Open section of RailCon. He even acquired some ranking points. Another first! I am convinced it was quite accidental but do I dare hope that this event will set a trend for future PBTs that Todd attends. I would dearly love for him to turn his brilliant 18xx gaming toward all train gaming and give Anthony Carver, Ed Hewlett, and Dave Lionett a run for their money.

Mike Massullo and John Puddifoot attended from Vancouver, BC but declined to participate in the team competition because they both wanted to concentrate on the Iron Man championships. As it turned out, we figured out later that if they had created a two-man team, they would have won the team championship. Go figure!

For the first time ever, we ran a Mega-Rails tournament comprising of the rules of Transatlantic and Transpacific Rails. We used three boards and fielded four teams. It was enjoyable to watch and participate in and with many good suggestions, hope to bring it back next year improved for RailCon `97.

There were too many laughs and too many beers shared to recount to you but rest assured that companionship and friendship were large components in this year's RailCon. Let me leave you with this exchange I overheard on the last day of the Rail Tour between Kris and the fourteen supposed adults that he ferried around to rail tour attractions. I say supposed because they were having way too much fun acting like kids, again:

"Are we there, yet?" (general whine)
"No! Didn't I tell you to go before we left the hotel?"
Aw, Daddy!" (fourteen voices in unison)

And Daddy he became for the rest of the week.


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