Homewood Rail Festival expands to Martin Square, includes science activities

Katelyn, left, and Avery Cheung enjoy watching a 
model train display during the 2015 Homewood 
Rail Fest.
(Chronicle file photos)

The Village of Homewood will celebrate the community's railroad history with its 12th annual Rail Fest from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, in downtown Homewood.

As in the past, the event will take place in the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Auditorium, 2010 Chestnut Road, but for the first time, it will also include activities at Homewood's new Martin Avenue Square and at the new Homewood Science Center.

This year's festival will feature rides for kids and adults on a trackless train, numerous model train displays, a wide assortment of train collectables. In the auditorium, visitors will be able to see intricate model train layouts. 

Crafts for kids will include decoding hobo symbols, creating train puzzles and coloring train cut-outs. 

Guitarist and singer MG Bailey will perform rail songs from yesteryear from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  Jackson Blue watches trains 
  zip around a track on one of 
  model displays during
  the 2015 Homewood Rail

At Martin Avenue Square, the block south of the auditorium, vendors will showcase one-of-a kind collections of antique trains, model trains and train. Visitors can ride a trackless train between the two points and throughout downtown Homewood.

Another new feature this year is pop-up science activities sponsored by the Homewood Science Center. Tying into the themes of railroads and travel, the center at 18122 Dixie Highway is providing two activities  — creating a balloon racer and making rubber band cars — that will demonstrate the principles of movement and force in fun and engaging ways. 

Families can also sign up for a chance to win a ride CN Railway's Lil Obie trackless train in Homewood's July 4th parade.

Near the festival are two other rail attractions to vist. One is the railroad observation platform  at Harwood Avenue and Kroner Lane just south of the Harwood entranct to the Metra station. Viewers can watch the train traffic and even listen to the conductors as they  maneuver on one of the eight tracks servicing Amtrak, Metra and freight trains. 

The Rail Park on the west side of the tracks just north of the Amtrak station features an Illinois Central engine and restored caboose. Connecting the two rail attractions is the underground pedestrian tunnel adorned with murals depicting local railroad history and murals painted by Homewood's Girls Scouts.

Homewood Rail Fest is free and open to the public. For more information on Homewood Rail Fest, visit homesweethomewood.com or call 708-798-3000.

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