By Ryan Cornell
A day away from the official start of the Route 11 Yard Crawl, the earliest collectors were beginning to scope out the spaces south of Strasburg near the Liberty Baptist Church on Friday morning.
Behind a table of merchandise covered in Jeff Gordon signatures and yellow 24's and another table laden with bags of fresh peaches for sale, two cages of chickens watched buyers peck through items. Lorrie Crabill said she also planned to bring two goats to sell.
"I'm probably the only person on the whole stretch that has goats and chickens," she said.
A crawl veteran, Crabill said she, her sister and mother have been keeping the same space across from the church for the past five years.
She said she had brought roosters to last year's crawl on early Saturday morning and they had been crowing. It was like they were signaling the start of the yard crawl, she said.
This year, instead of roosters, the screams of 4-year-old Nevaeh Garrett could be heard from spaces away.
"Who wants coffee and muffins?" she repeatedly shouted.
Together with 10-year-old Gracie Hart, the two friends were using the refreshment stand as a way to entice more customers to their families' lot. But it didn't seem to be working, according to Nevaeh, who explained that "no people are not coming."
Woodstock resident Bill Shrum collects old wind-up and steam-powered toys from the 1940s and 1950s. By 10 a.m. Friday, he said he had already scouted 25 different locations and found a couple pieces for his collection, which he shows off each September at the Mount Olive GermanFest.
Starting near his home, he travels north toward Stephens City on Friday and will restart his search on Saturday, traveling south with his two sons toward New Market.
He said the toys are hard to come by because most of them are sold on the Internet, where the prices are driven up.
"You just have to get out there and dig and hunt," Shrum said. "And you'll find anything. They got anything for sale."
"Anything" might be an understatement.
Greg, who declined to give his last name, was selling parts of the World War I and II collection he had amassed over 30 years.
His collection included original badges and patches worn by Nazi members of the Luftwaffe, SS and Hitler Youth. He also was selling daggers embossed with swastikas for $500 each.
"Some people collect Star Wars figures and some people collect this," he said. "And just because you collect it doesn't mean you agree with the philosophy with what they did back then. It's just historical artifacts, like the KKK."
He added that one of his artifacts included a Ku Klux Klan uniform, though it wasn't present at his space.
He said he had cleaned out the garage at his home in Pennsylvania and was trying to raise some cash to support his daughter, who had recently lost her house.
The Route 11 Yard Crawl stretches for 43 miles from Stephens City to New Market and starts at 7 a.m., Saturday. This is the ninth annual yard crawl.
"What is it?" Shrum said. "One man's junk is somebody else's treasure."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org