By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Nov 03, 2008 at 4:34 PM

For boys and girls alike, there's something magical and captivating about trains. Consequently, when Trainfest pulls into Milwaukee, it's good news for both little people and their parents.

"Some people think Trainfest is just a collector's event, but it's an event for everyone," said John H. Tews, executive director of Trainfest.

Trainfest -- America's largest operating model railroad show -- chugs into the Exposition Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park on Saturday, Nov. 8 and Sunday, Nov. 9 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Trainfest costs $10 for adults, but kids 12 and under are free.

The event features more than 50 detailed, operating model railroad displays and scenic reproductions. In addition, 50 hobby dealers, 60 manufacturers and 12 historical groups will be in the display area.

For many, Trainfest represents more than a celebration of a transportation mode. Instead, it's about passing along the hobby of model railroading to a new generation.

"My 3-year-old has been begging to go to Trainfest for the last month, so I want to see the huge grin on his face when he actually sees the trains again this year," says Trainfest's Therese Novotny.

At Trainfest, kids can see a train built entirely from LEGO blocks. They can ride a kid-sized circus train replica, operate several other train layouts and race two trains against each other on a track set up in the shape of a dog bone.

Manufacturers and vendors bring everything from starter train sets to miniature cars and buildings perfect for first-time layouts. Additionally, Radio Disney will set up a craft booth with a take-home activity.

Trainfest hosts operating layouts from Z to G scale, and manufacturers will share the most popular trends in model railroading. Model railroad leaders including Walthers, Athearn, Bachmann, Marklin, Lionel, Atlas, Kalmbach and MTH Electric Trains.

Although model railroading has been  a predominanly male hobby in the past, trains gained popularity little girls introduced to "Thomas the Tank Engine."

"Although boys seem magnetically drawn to trains, girls and women are equally fascinated by Trainfest," says Novotny. "My daughters and girlfriends who come to Trainfest get mesmerized by all the details in the layouts, which are often scenes depicting small town life, busy city streets or outdoor mountain landscapes."

Last year, Trainfest attracted 21,000 attendees from across the country. The show usually brings over 160 exhibitors from Oregon, Texas, California, Florida, Vermont, Maine, North Carolina, New Jersey and New York to showcase layouts and reproductions.  

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.