LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Whistles blew and rails clacked as train enthusiasts from across the region gathered for the 22nd annual La Crosse Rail Fair.
The event was hosted by the 4000 Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining and restoring the La Crosse Short Line Railroad Display.
All proceeds from today's Rail Fair go towards the upkeep.
The event is one of the biggest fundraisers for the group, bringing in about $6000 each year.
Foundation President Mark Hamre says it's a chance to show people what the display is all about.
"It's an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with the display," Hamre said. "We like to use it as really our annual showcase of the display. And people can come and see firsthand what it's all about and learn about the history. "
Each year, the Rail Fair brings in nearly 2000 railroad enthusiasts from across the region.
Attendees buy, sell and trade everything from models to magazines.
Henry Bangsberg is one of 200 vendors who brings memorabilia to the rail fair.
He's been coming to the swap meet for four years, and he says the appeal of railroading is different for everyone.
"We have quite a few members who really like the fact that our club building is right next to the tracks in Sparta, so there's a bunch of guys who like to watch the trains," said Bangsberg, President of the West Central Model Railroad Club. "There's a bunch of guys who like to have the simulators on their computers so they can pretend they're driving trains. I really enjoy the modeling parts of it so I build a lot of kits."
Organizers say that the railroads played a large part in La Crosse's history, and the rail fair is a way to celebrate that history.