Find Answers to General Trainfest Questions
What is Trainfest?
Trainfest, a celebration of model railroading, happens only once a year on the second weekend of November at Wisconsin State Fair Park. Although it might sound like it’s just for train experts, Trainfest is for everyone. Thousands of model railroad buffs, families, and all other types of railroad fans meet at Trainfest to marvel at more than 70 unique running railroads. New products from dozens of manufacturers are on display and available for purchase.
Is Trainfest only for collectors and model train enthusiasts?
Not at all! Trainfest is an experience to be enjoyed by all. Whether you’re a family with kids or an avid model railroader looking for new ideas, Trainfest is for you.
Is Trainfest stroller and wheelchair friendly?
Yes. We’ve intentionally designed our show with wide aisles to cater to such needs. There is elevator access to the second floor clinics as well. Please note Trainfest does not have strollers or wheelchairs available for rent.
How do I get tickets?
You can purchase admission tickets before the event online and at some local hobby shops. Tickets are also available at the door. More about prices and discounts can be found here.
Is admission good for an entire day?
Yes! Your admission is good for the entire day. Attendees are welcome to leave and return the same day with a Trainfest wristband.
Are group rates available?
Please contact us to arrange group ticket sales.
Where can I park?
Parking is available for $6 in the main lot right outside the Expo Center as well as on various city streets throughout the surrounding neighborhood. Handicap parking is accessible upon request at the gate.
Do any visitors or exhibitors dress in train conductor attire?
You will certainly see your share of overalls and engineer hats. Feel free to wear yours as well!
Does Trainfest offer programs for Scouts?
No, but admission is free for Scouts in uniform.
I have asthma. Should I be concerned about large amounts of model train smoke?
We’re not doctors, but we can tell you that while the smoke is very realistic, it’s not considered harmful by the manufacturers.
How do I register for a clinic?
You can do that right here.
Are children allowed at Trainfest?
Absolutely! Our doors are open to train fans of all ages on Saturday and Sunday. We warmly welcome families and offer ample room for strollers, activities for children and exhibits viewable by all.
Are the layouts easily visible to my kids?
Most of our layouts are at a height viewable by kids. Some are even built to be low off the ground. But to be safe, we encourage you to bring a little step stool.
What can I do with my bag/coat/other things?
A check-in area for personal items is available for an additional fee for those who you do not want to carry their things around the show floor.
How much time should we plan to spend at Trainfest?
The duration of a visit to Trainfest varies depending on your interest level and/or on the ages of your children. Most families allow at least four hours to visit but are welcome to stay the entire day.
Is food service available?
State Fair runs all the food and beverage booths at Trainfest and will sell their concessions throughout the weekend. This includes nuts. Outside food is not allowed within the Expo Center. Families are also welcome to leave — several restaurants serving a variety of items are within walking distance — and return the same day with a Trainfest wristband.
Is there a gift shop?
No, but there are plenty of vendors selling trains and train-related items to buy. Many do accept credit cards.
What’s the difference between a “layout” and a “module”?
A module is a specific scene based on a real place or an original creation that features a crossing railroad track. A layout is an assemblage of numerous different modules pieced together to form one large cohesive composition. Layouts can contain any number of modules.
Why is Trainfest in Milwaukee?
Model train hobbyists have a long history in Milwaukee. The National Model Railroading Association (NMRA) established itself in Milwaukee in 1935. Over time, members of the Wisconsin Southeastern (WISE) division of the NMRA developed an annual single-day railroading show for all local model train hobbyists. In 1972, the first ever Trainfest was held on 6th Street in Downtown Milwaukee. This single-day event grew rapidly in participation and attendance, and has now developed into America’s Largest Operating Model Railroad Show.
When will Trainfest take place in 2018?
Trainfest is usually scheduled for the second weekend in November each year. In 2018, Trainfest will be Nov. 10-11.