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Fans on the fast track to the model train show

Model trains may be small, but to train-lovers big and small,they're always big-time fun. That's why model train fans of all ages will be heading to the 32nd H&R Train Show today through Sunday in Pinellas Park.

The free event is one of the twice-yearly shows the store stages as a way of thanking its customers. Modelers and collectors of all scales of model railroads will be on hand with displays and exhibits competing for more than $1,500 in prizes.

"It's a great way for casual enthusiasts to learn the hobby," said Don Morris, owner of the store at 6901 U.S. 19 N in Pinellas Park. "There's all sorts of variety, all types of layouts."

The show is held in a giant tent outside the store which allows for dozens of displays. In addition, manufacturers such as Marklin, LGB and others will be on hand with seminars and new product demonstrations, as well as supplying the store with items for hourly door prize giveaways.

Train show hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. For information call 526-4682.

SCI-FI CONVENTION _ Science fiction fans can take a trip this weekend that's just a little bit out of this world when Vulkon '97, the annual sci-fi enthusiast convention, arrives Saturday and Sunday at the St. Petersburg Hilton.

Fans of the Star Wars movies and television shows Star Trek: Voyager and Babylon 5 will be able to meet cast members, attend panel discussions and attend a huge memorabilia and collectible show and sale.

The convention will welcome guests, including Robert Picardo, who plays "the Doctor" on Star Trek: Voyager, Patricia Tallman, who portrays Lyta Alexander on the Babylon 5 series, and Kenny Baker, the diminutive actor who played the robot droid R2D2 in the Star Wars trilogy, all of whom will sign autographs for fans. Visitors can also meet noted comic book illustrator and science fiction expert Arne Starr.

Other activities throughout the weekend include a costume contest of favorite show characters, alien sculpting, a charity auction and special film and animation showings.

Admission to Vulkon '97 is $20 per day at the door for adults and children over 10. Children under 10 are free with an adult (one child per adult). For more information call (954) 434-6060.

MODELS AHOY _ The Bay Area Electric Boaters invite everyone to learn more about their hobby on Saturday when the group hosts its third annual Radio Controlled Model Boat Regatta at Lake Seminole Park.

Participants from throughout the area and from around the state will be putting their prized vessels through their paces in the Scale Ship Modeler's of North America-sanctioned event.

Things will be getting under way at about 10 a.m. at shelter No. 1. Spectators are welcome to bring lawn chairs to watch the day-long races. There is no admission charge. For more information call 545-8626.

STAMP SHOW _ The Chaspex Stamp Show will be held Saturday and Sunday at the New Port Richey Recreation Center, 832 Indiana Ave. E in New Port Richey.

Dealers from throughout the country will be on hand with current issues and vintage collectibles of all kinds and styles, and will be buying as well as selling items. Free door prizes will be given away throughout both days.

Admission to the show is free. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Call (813) 848-7697 for information.