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American River Messenger

All Aboard the 45th International Railfair

Oct 26, 2023 09:58AM ● By Thomas J. Sullivan

A BNSF engine model on a track. Photo courtesy of IRF

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - All Aboard the 45th Annual International Railfair (IRF), coming to Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd in Sacramento, on Veteran’s Day weekend, Saturday, November 11 and Sunday, November 12. It’s the first time IRF has been in Sacramento County since its earliest when it was held at Sacramento City College.

The annual International Railfair show is run by members of the Sacramento Modular Railroaders, the Sacramento chapter of the European Train Enthusiasts, Roseville Roundhouse Model Railroad Association, and the Sierra Division of the Pacific Coast Region of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA), said IRF spokesperson Tom Campbell.

“We display operating model railroads to the public at the International Rail Fair and educate the public about model railroading, railroad history, and prototypical railroad operations,” Campbell said.

This year, IRF guests will be able to enjoy more than 28,000 square-feet of model railroad fun, explore over 100 vendor tables, and swap goods at a TrainMart consignment store as they see over 12 operating model train layouts in action ranging from Z to G.

“The two-day show is called ‘International Railfair’ because one of our sponsor clubs, European Train Enthusiasts, specializes in building and operating European model railroads,” Campbell said.

A children’s layout returns this year where children can run a scale model locomotive and earn a Junior Engineer badge.

The popular “Square Foot Challenge” also returns this year – with a holiday theme. Attendees are invited to vote for their favorite holiday diorama with the highest number of votes named a People’s Choice winner. The winning diorama builder will receive a custom trophy based on a machinist’s square and a $50 gift card to RC Country Hobbies.

 Supplies for the IRF Square Foot Challenge. Photo courtesy of IRF

The individual model railroad layouts which are seen at the International Railfair are modular railroads. A typical modular layout consists of transportable individual modules which are clamped together to create a single model railroad, Campbell said.

Modules are typically lightweight, and are about 30" wide and four feet long, and packed with a lot of scenic detail. Legs fold out from underneath the module and the required electrical wiring drops down at both ends of the module.

General admission, ages 13 and up, good for both days, is $12. Admission on Sunday, November 12 is reduced to $10 per person. Youth admission for ages 13-17 is $5. Children ages 12 and under are free both days. Active and retired military members receive a $2 discount on event admission at the gate.

For more information email Tom Campbell at [email protected]. To purchase advance tickets, visit