The 2019 MER Convention, "Liberty Bell Special," will feature both judged and popular vote contests that are part of all MER conventions. There will also be Special Awards including the President's Award, the Blue Lantern Award, and others.  Contests will be located in the Lincoln Room at the hotel. The Contest Room will be open for contest entry on:

       Friday     —   9:00 am - 9:30 pm. 
      Saturday —   8:00 am - 9:00 am.  Judging will begin promptly at 8:30 am on Saturday!  The Contest room will close promptly at 12 pm on Saturday!

Judges will assemble in the Contest Room with the Contest Chairman to start judging the entered  models at 8:30 am on Saturday.  Any persons wishing to be an Apprentice Judge should contact the Contest Chair as early as possible and plan on spending the day judging with several of the judging teams.


Please do not bring large purses, shoulder/back packs, camera bags, etc. into the contest room. 
All contest items must be picked up and removed from the Contest Room by 12:00 pm on Sunday, Oct 7.


Members wishing to display a model can bring it to the Contest Room, and pending available space, there will be a table just for these models. Please check with the contest staff when you come by the room or contact Alan Mende, MER Contest Chair ( directly if you have questions.

CONTESTS: Model Contest


The categories for the judged Model Contest include:

        Freight Car (Revenue) 
        Passenger Car 
        On-Line Structure 
        Off-Line Structure 
        On-Line Display (Diorama) 
        Off-Line Display (Diorama)

Note that modules are eligible (a special judging form is available – contact the Contest Chair (email) for a copy!) 

Plaques will be awarded for first place in each model category. Second and third place awards will be awarded a certificate.  The model winning the Best of Show Award allows other models in that category to move up one place for a 1st place plaque.  If your model scores 87.5 points or greater, it will earn a merit award from the Achievement Program. For more information on the AP, contact the MER AP Manager, Dave Chance (email), or your division AP Coordinator.

Popular Vote Model Contests

There are TWO popular vote categories associated with the model contest: The Favorite Train Award and The Favorite Model. You can fill out your choice on the Popular Vote Ballot. The winners of each contest will receive a plaque for his modeling efforts. 

Model Contest Rules and AP-only Judging of Models

Our model contest rules are short and to the point! We follow the basic NMRA National Contest rules.  Visit their site for a more detailed explanation of all these rules, and to down load the forms needed to enter all the contests; if you need help or forms, contact Alan Mende, MER Contest Chair (

Modelers Please Note

The MER allows NMRA and Region officials who wish to help judge the model contest to do so and still enter models in the contest. Those who judge and enter models must, however, recuse themselves from judging the entire category in which they have entered a model.  Those wishing to judge or learn to judge by being apprentice judges are encouraged to contact the Contest Chair!

Any questions? Please e-mail the Contest Chair, or speak with one of our contest staff members: The staff
will be available in the Contest Room during the Convention.

Alan Mende, MER Contest Chair (

1.    Entrants must be current members of the NMRA. 
2.    Contest entrants cannot be professional model builders, i.e. derive over 50% of one's income from constructing models. 
3.    Each model, photo or piece of craftwork must be accompanied by the official NMRA Entry Form #901, filled out and signed by the entrant. In addition, model entries must have a filled out Judges Score Sheet #902. Writeable Entry Forms and Judges Score Sheets are available from the NMRA and the MER website. Go to either website, download the form, fill out as a Word document, print and bring them with you to the Contest Room at the Convention. 
4.    You may enter the contest by proxy. Whoever submits an entry for someone else, however, must present the owner-builder's NMRA membership number. 
5.    Models that have won a 1st place in any prior National or Regional contest cannot be entered in the same category at this contest. 
6.    There are no restrictions on the number of models entered by a member. 
7.    For those modelers who wish to have their work judged for the Achievement Program only, your models will be judged when the model contest is judged. 

CONTESTS: Photography


1. Prototype Photos: Steam Related. Images of prototype steam locomotives. 
2. Prototype Photos: Non-Steam. Images of any locomotives, rolling stock, structures, etc., except for steam. 
3. Model Photos. Images of model railroads and related model items. 


Judging will be by popular vote.  In the event of a tie, it will be the judgment of the Contest Chairman or his appointee to break the tie.  In addition to the 1st place plaque, and the 2nd and 3rd place certificates, a Best of Show (plaque) will also be chosen from all of the entries by highest overall point total. 


1. All current NMRA members are eligible to enter. 
2. You cannot be a professional photographer and enter this contest, i.e. you cannot derive more than 50% of your income as a photographer. 
3. Participants may enter up to 5 prints in each of the 3 categories. (Slides are not accepted.) 
4. The maximum size for each photograph is 96 square inches (i.e. the equivalent of an 8 x 12 photograph). Entries may not be framed. 
5. Each participant must fill out Contest Entry Form #901 to enter each photo into the contest. Participants should try to bring their photos in as early as possible within the contest room's announced hours of operation to facilitate the popular vote process. No entries can be accepted after the model contest judging begins on Saturday morning. 
6. Do not enter the same image(s) in more than one category. That includes changing a color image to a gray scale or vice-versa. 
7. Any image that won a first place or Best of Show award in a previous MER photography contest may not be entered again. If you change a previous first place-winning image from color to gray scale, or vice versa, it is still the same image and may not be entered again. 
8. If your entry has won first place or Best of Show at the National Convention you may not enter it — but you can display it to show off your winning entry. 
9. The participants of the photography contests will be totally responsible for their images and will not hold the MER, the host Division or people connected with the contests liable for damage or losses. 
10. The Contest Chair or appointed representative shall make the final judgment on all questions or questionable entries dealing with the Photography Contests. 

Make sure to stop in and vote while at the Convention. Even if you have not entered the contest, it can only help the camaraderie of model railroaders. The ballots and ballot box will be available in the contest room near the photo display rack. 

These rules are reviewed on a continuing basis by the Contest Chairperson to see if the activity can be improved over time. If you have questions or any suggestions, comments, etc., please contact Alan Mende, MER Contest Chair (

CONTESTS: Special Awards

Special Awards are those sponsored by the MER, various Divisions within the Region and private groups: 
THE BEST IN SHOW AWARD is given to the model that scores the highest point total in the judged model contest.  In addition to the plaque, this award also provides registration to next year's convention!
THE PRESIDENT'S AWARD for 2019 will be chosen by MER President Thompson and given for a car for automotive use -- auto racks, boxcars, gondolas for carrying frames, etc.
THE CLYDE GERALD AWARD is sponsored by the MER and named for the late Clyde Gerald, former MER Business Manager and longtime modeler. It is awarded to the kit-bashed model which scores highest in the judged model contest.  Be sure to check the definition of kit-bashed for this award!
THE BLUE LANTERN AWARD is privately sponsored and chosen by long time MER modeler Terry Nesbit and his Narrow Gauge Car Shop. The Blue Lantern is given to a model best representing branch or private line equipment or facilities, which contain no more than forty (40) percent commercial parts. The prize-a genuine railroad lantern-is presented to the winner by Mr. Nesbit.
THE BOB LIBERMAN MEMORIAL AWARD is given for the model freight, passenger, caboose, or MoW car that would, in the opinion of the awarding committee, be the one that Bob Liberman would choose as the best detailed car in the contest.  The award includes a plaque and $100.00 Gift Card/Certificate to Hobby Store of choice.
THE PHILADELPHIA DIVISION NEW MODELER AWARD rewards excellence in model building by first time entrants in the MER judged model contest. The highest score achieved by a new modeler is awarded a plaque and a cash prize of twenty-five dollars.
THE CHUCK HLADIK MEMORIAL AWARD, sponsored by the James River Division, this year will be awarded for a freight car with a reporting mark from a railroad in the South. NOTE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR. All questions regarding eligibility should be directed to JRD's Contest co-chair Shannon Crabtree at AND CC'd to the JRD Superintendent at
THE RAY BILODEAU NARROW GAUGE AWARD is also privately sponsored by a group of narrow gauge modelers, and encourages building models depicting aspects of narrow gauge railroading. 
THE "GREAT DECALS!" AWARD is an award for an excellent model that includes a "Great Decals!" product in its construction and/or finishing achieving the highest judged score in lettering & finish for a model that employs a product demonstrated to be from Great Decals that also receives a Merit Award.  This award is worth not only a plaque, but a cash prize of thirty dollars!
THE FAVORITE TRAIN AWARD, sponsored by the Tidewater Division, is a popular vote award and will be included on the Popular Vote ballot. Yes, members who can find their way to the contest room and fill out a ballot get to choose the winner!
THE FAVORITE MODEL AWARD is another popular vote award and will also be included on the Popular Vote ballot. Yes, those same members who can find their way to the contest room and fill out a ballot get to choose their favorite model in the room!! 
For further details on the criteria for all of these awards, please visit the MER website, Click on the names of the Special awards for more information on each award.  Or, you can just contact Alan Mende, MER Contest Chair ( for more information.

Liberty Bell Special © 2019 Frontier Theme