Fun with trains, machines at two Homewood events

Homewood will host two events featuring big machines on Saturday, May 19, its 12th annual Rail Fest and the annual Public Works Department open house.
  Charlie Fetherling and
  young Bowen watch a train
  go by during the 2017 
  Rail Fest.
(Chronicle file 
Rail Fest will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the H-F Park District Auditorium, 2010 Chestnut Road and at nearby Martin Avenue Square, 18020 Martin Ave., and the Homewood Science Center, 18022 Dixie Highway. 

Inside the auditorium will be intricate train layouts and kids activities, including crafts, train puzzles and coloring of train cut-outs. 

In a tent at Martin Avenue Square, across the street from the auditorium, train memorablila vendors will showcase one-of-a kind collections of antique trains, model trains and a variety of train-related items. 

MG Bailey will perform rail songs from yesteryear on Martin Ave Square from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Food and sweets vendors will include Bakewell Bakery, Dairy Queen, EmpanadUS, LaVoute Bistro and Bar, a taco food truck and more.

Homewood Science Center will partner with South Suburban business Mi-Jack Products Inc. to provide an opportunity to investigate simple machines from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  A youngster operates 
  a forklift during the 2017 
  Public Works open house 
  with a little help from 
  a public works staffer.

This kid-friendly drop-in PopUp SCIENCE activity will explore how Mi-Jack’s products were influenced by concepts from simple machines invented in the third century B.C. Kids of all ages will explore the lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge and inclined planes. 

In the STEAM Studio, families can create their own simple machines using household and recycled items. This PopUp SCIENCE event is free and open to the public. No advance registration is requested.

“Our 125th anniversary is a great time to also celebrate our rich rail history,” said Village Mayor Rich Hofeld, referring to the village's incorporation in 1893. “If it weren’t for the railroad, Homewood wouldn’t exist and be the creative and welcoming community it is. We are happy to have people from all over visit us using the convenient Metra Electric train line."

Additional rail amenities in Homewood include the Rail Watching Platform on Harwood Avenue next 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 Homewood Rail Park is on the west side of the tracks on Park Avenue just north of the Metra station. It features an Illinois Central caboose with restored interior. 

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.

The Public Works Department open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 17755 Ashland Ave. will feature interactive equipment operations by guests with supervision and assistance from public works staff, rides for kids, tours of the water plant facility and demonstrations on tree planting and water main repairs. 

There will be games, crafts, popcorn and hotdogs, too. 

Both events are free and open to the public. For more information about Rail Fest, visit or call 708-798-3000. For more information about the open house, call 708-206-2906.

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