Big machines will rule in Homewood on May 20-21

Time to read
2 minutes

Big machines will rule in Homewood on May 20-21

May 11, 2017 - 09:14
  Katelyn, left, and Avery Cheung enjoy the train show
  at the 2015 Homewood Rail Fest.
(Chronicle file photos)
Kids who love big machines are going to have a big weekend in Homewood on Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21. 

Big machines ― including tiny versions of them ― will be on display and in action at the annual Homewood Rail Fest, the Homewood Public Works Open House and the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District's Touch a Truck event. The Homewood Science Center will host a PopUp Science event with activities that explore the physics of railroads and rollercoasters.
  A youngster grins as he 
  steers a pavement roller 
  at the 2016 Homewood 
  Public Works open house 
  with help from Assistant
  Public Works Director
  Dave Ebert. 

The Homewood Public Works (HPW) event at 17755 Ashland Ave. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. gives families a chance to not only see the trucks, graders, lifts, rollers and other big machines but to take a hand at operating some of them with supervision and assistance from HPW staff.

In addition to interactive equipment operations, the event will include tours of the water plant, an operator challenge, a dress-up station so kids can imagine themselves as public works employees and refreshments. 

HPW officials say the event helps youngsters and their families better understand the work of maintaining the village's infrastructure. It marks the culmination of the village's celebration of National Public Works Week.
Before, during and after the HPW Open House, train lovers can visit the 13th Annual Rail Fest in downtown Homewood at the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Auditorium, 2010 Chestnut Road, and at Martin Avenue Square, just to the north.

The festival from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. will include a number of model train layout displays in the auditorium and train collectible booths on Martin Avenue Square.

Canadian National Railway’s trackless train, Little Obie, will take visitors on rides around the downtown area. Craft activities with a hobo and train theme will be available for kids, and MG Bailey will perform railroad folk songs. 

Homewood Science Center will contribute to the festival with a popup science activity from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. exploring the physics of railroads and roller coasters and a history lesson about a Homewood resident who contributed to roller coaster technology.

The HF Robotics team is programming a robot to lift a yoga ball onto different coaster ramps, and patrons get to predict which path the ball will take. 

A patent from the 1919 “Pleasure Railway Structure,” will be on display. The patent was for a roller coaster engineered by Homewood’s John Miller. 

Kids will also be able to build a model roller coaster out of foam pipe insulation, make a railcar from candy and snap a photo in a railcar cut-out. 

Festival visitors might want to include a stop at the Rail Watching Platform on Harwood Avenue just south of the Metra station entrance. 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 CN freight trains. 

On the west side of the tracks, visitors will find the Rail Park on Park Avenue north of the Metra station. The park features a restored Illinois Central caboose. 

Connecting the two rail attractions is the underground pedestrian tunnel adorned with murals depicting local railroad history and murals painted by Homewood’s Girl Scouts. 

On Sunday, the big machine action moves to Lions Pool parking lot at 1041 Ridge Road.

Kids will have another chance to get up close and personal with some huge trucks at the H-F Park District's Touch a Truck event from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Trucks from the villages of Homewood and Flossmoor, including emergency and public works vehicles, will be available. A Chicagoland Speedway pace car will also be at the event.

Parking available in the east pool lot and at the H-F Sports Complex, 18211 Aberdeen St.

Homewood Rail Fest, HPW Open House and popup science events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call 708-798-3000. For more information about Touch a Truck, contact Caryn or Joe at 708-957-0300.