Eland Day ready to welcome visitors

Village hopes to keep railroad history alive
Luke Reimer

One local community festival is returning in 2022 to showcase its history.

Eland Day, a celebration of Eland’s railroad history, is scheduled for Aug. 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Eland Depot Grounds. The event is free.

“We receive donations from old railroad families,” said Eland Village Clerk Marnie Osterbrink. “So, we want to keep sharing those things and keeping the history alive.”

Along with showcasing railroad artifacts, Osterbrink said that Eland Day will include vendors, displays of local government history, the Ol’ Flames Car Club, and live music. The live music will feature Steve Anderson in the morning, followed by Marty Frei in the afternoon.

“We are just trying to keep people coming and enjoying the history that we have here,” said Osterbrink. “We want to keep it alive, because there are not a lot of trains around anymore. We were one of the busiest train depots in the state. If it wasn’t for the trains, we wouldn’t be here.”

She also hinted at an old fire engine being up and running in preparation for the event.

“That could make an appearance,” said Osterbrink.

Osterbrink estimated that the total number of people who attended the event last year sat around 800.

“We are trying to get over 1,000 this year,” said Osterbrink. “Our senior generation loves it, because it takes them back to their younger years. We are also finding that some of our younger generation that don’t really know a lot about trains or the history of our community are actually learning to love the train history as well.”

Working as the clerk of the village and compiling history, Osterbrink said that her favorite part of the job is when she sees those two generations coming together over the history of the village.

“Just seeing everyone get together and talking about the old days and sharing those stories with the younger generation — I love it,” said Osterbrink. “We have lost a number of residents this past year, and with them goes that history.”

When asked what visitors can expect at the event, Osterbrink said everyone experiences something different.

“Some people come just for the historical aspect, some people come to just shop at the vendors and some people just come to get back together with others that they grew up with,” said Osterbrink. “Eland has a really tight history and community. Once you are from here, you are always from here.”

Osterbrink hopes that visitors will come to the festival to enjoy the history of Eland, as well as just to catch up with other community members.

“This is just a real laid back event,” said Osterbrink. “People just come, listen to the music, get some food and check out the vendors.”