A couple of people query my love of smaller (or just small) shows. The trend in the last twenty years is to get bigger and bigger and this probably peaks with the mighty Warley. The comment that accompanies is often that it proves how buoyant the hobby is. Maybe, maybe not. I would tend to say the opposite. I don't know what the gate numbers are for such a show, but I'd think that there is a percentage involved here. Say it is 10,000. 2,500 of this are casuals i.e. those who are interested but do no modelling. Another quarter are what might be termed 'collectors', those who will buy the latest Hornby model and put it on the shelf. Leaving half of the number who are are actually doing any modelling; from running some RTR round in circles, to the full-blown hair-shirt scratch-builders.
These numbers could also most probably be transferred in percentage terms down to any show. The difference is that at the smaller shows you get more modelling. Yes some of it isn't that high quality, but it is modelling nevertheless. What's more is that it is more representative of what actually happens, and shows the real levels of attainment. The big shows rarely do this, only picking the best of the bunch and keeping the quality high. Not to mention the fashion of 'billing', that is that there has to be a number of name layouts that have appeared in the press. The problem here is that can have an adverse effect leaving the casual/beginner with a feeling of 'I'll never be able to do that'. Conversely the small show usually hits a more basic level. There maybe a top flight layout or two, but more likely there will be varying levels of quality, and more often - ideas. In other words some of the more left-field oddball stuff that will never get to Warley et al and has been dreamt up by a guy who has no desire to go there. That's where the magic is, that's where the modelling is, and that's where I tend to gravitate toward.