FLINT, MI – While the sweltering 90-degree heat kept some inside, Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad brought out a crowd for the 40th-annual Railfans Weekend, which began Saturday, Aug. 6.
At the entrance of Main St., the pathway was filled with the sounds of timeless music, including a five-string banjo, a guitar and vocals from duo Suzanne and Jim, who keep history alive through “Americana Roots Music Tradition.”
“The people who come, they’re just filled with such joy. The things that are so different from our modern life, and the music I think holds them to that. We play music that would have been known and played on these very streets back 100 years ago,” said the full-time touring professional musicians.
Railfans Weekend, co-sponsored by Genesee County Park and Mid-Michigan Railway Historical Society, is the only time of the year where patrons can tour the railroad and see the tools and the toil it takes to maintain the celebrated steam locomotive.
In addition, event attendees learned some life-saving tips from local and national information vendors.
Curtis Stewart, state coordinator of Operation Lifesaver, the largest rail safety organization in the United States, has been coming to Railfans Weekend for 10 years as an information vendor. Besides staying hydrated in the heat, his main purpose was to educate.
“I don’t care from the small ones all the way up to the old ones,” said Stewart. “We want to educate everybody about not going on the railroad tracks, not taking pictures up on the railroad tracks, walking it or using it as a trail because, first of all, it’s all private property. We’re here to educate people about not trespassing – because it’s illegal- and just being safe around railroads.”
The smell of sawmill wood, the sound of kids enjoying the carousel ride and the mesmerizing train models made the event a sensory sensation.
“We have a few new members to the clubs, but it’s a traditional event for us. It’s already kind of special,” said Village Manager Melissa Mahan.
“Everybody here seems to love their job. They love what they do. They love taking care of the customers and preserving history. It’s all about Genesee County history here. It’s very unique and there are other places like us, but at the same time there’s not. This is the only Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad.”
Railfans Weekend continues from 10 am to 5 pm Sunday, Aug. 7. More information about the event can be found on its website.