This post states the set of COVID-related rules that will be in effect during the ArnFest event at the Illinois Railway Museum (IRM) on September 23-26, 2021. These rules have been under discussion among the ArnFest organizers for several weeks as the event nears, and as the pandemic continues to evolve. Pending further developments over the next month, these rules may also be revised if the organizers feel the COVID status warrants changes.
There is no single set of rules that will meet the expectations or preferences of every attendee at the event. We understand that. The current trend for public events in medium to large venues has been to require either proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to enter the venue. We are not following that trend at this time, as you’ll see below.
First, we start with the requirements that IRM currently has in place for anyone entering the IRM grounds. See https://www.irm.org/hours-admission/ for further details.
IRM COVID Policies
• People who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear a face covering or socially distance when outdoors or in the train exhibit buildings. Everyone, vaccinated or not, is required to wear a mask inside the Schroeder Store, Central Diner, and museum office building as of August 1, 2021.
• Those who are not fully vaccinated are expected to practice social distancing and wear a face covering at ALL times on Museum property, except when dining.
• As all railroad operations (including ours) are regulated by the Federal government, DOT and TSA regulations for public transportation supersede state regulations and also apply to the Museum’s trains. Therefore, like CTA and Metra, we must still require face coverings for everyone ages 2 and up (unless unable to do so because of a disability, as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act) aboard our trains. Please bring your own face covering and wear it whenever riding. All face coverings should:
1. Fully cover your nose and mouth and allow you to remain hands-free.
2. Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
3. Be made of breathable material, either disposable or reusable.
• Anyone subject to these regulations unwilling to wear a face covering will not be permitted to board trains.
• Our children’s playground is now open.
• Hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the property. Our public restrooms remain available for hand washing. Please take advantage of these opportunities as often as you can.
• Our Diner is currently open on weekends only. Menu selections and operating hours may be limited to ensure quality standards. On weekdays, snacks are available at the Gift Store and beverages from vending machines. You are welcome to bring your own food and enjoy a picnic on one of the many tables around the campus. Masks must be worn inside the diner by everyone regardless of vaccination status.
Building upon the IRM minimums, here are specific items in effect (for now) for anyone attending the ArnFest event.
1. We will not be checking vaccination or negative test status of attendees. Attendees are trusted to abide by the IRM and ArnFest rules on their own accord.
2. Masks must be worn by all attendees at all times while inside Barn 4 and at the banquet unless eating. No exceptions.
- The state of IL now requires masks indoors for everyone, so we will abide by the mandate.
- While you may believe the risk to yourself is low and you can use your best judgment around others, our volunteers, as well as IRM workers, have frequent and consistent contact with many others. The goal is to stay healthy and only bring home some memories and machines.
- We will have a box of disposable masks available at the check-in table outside the entrance to Barn 4 if you do not have a mask of your own.
- Note that IRM volunteers are likely to be moving around our group while inside Barn 4 and may not be subject to this same mask requirement. They are held to IRM regulations. Please don’t give them any grief.
3. Weather dependent, we are attempting to move as many functions and activities outside as possible. These include the check-in station, demos, and Friday’s lunch.
4. The Friday lunch will not be the usual buffet of Subway. We are making plans for individual servings and plan to eat outside under the pavilion.
5. There will be no group photo on Saturday.
6. The Swap Meet in the parking lot will have an extended time slot.
7. We are working with the Holiday Inn to modify the banquet and auction setup and activities.
- Dinner will be served as plates rather than as a buffet, which will permit fewer people per table.
- We may be able to have a larger space as well, which will allow us to spread out more.
- Raffle tickets will be sold at the check-in station at IRM on Friday and Saturday, not in a huge line at the hotel. We will go around to individual tables at the hotel for last-minute raffle ticket purchases.
- After the auction, do not line up at the front table; we will call you to the front to tally up.
- We are working on an easier on-line payment option to pay remotely.
- Checks are accepted and if you know your total, you can write your check at your table to be dropped off without standing in line.
As I said above, not everyone will agree with these rules. But if you attend, you are expected to honor them.
ArnFest cannot guarantee your safety and won't be responsible if you contract viruses of any sort, so if you are not willing to follow the rules, whether too stringent or too lenient, we encourage you to skip this year.
Anyone who has registered but wants to withdraw in advance will be given a full refund of their registration fee. Please send an email prior to the event to the ArnFest email account, email@example.com, with the subject line Refund Request. You will be refunded in full, no questions asked. If the request comes in close to the start date, however, it may be the following week before we can process your refund.
I have asked the site moderators to lock and sticky this thread. If you have questions or concerns, send a PM to me, Bill Nance, and/or Brian Kachadurian, the primary ArnFest organizers.
Thank you. Hope to see you in a few weeks.