By Katie Demeria
WOODSTOCK -- This year a new, fancy lady will be leading the Route 11 Yard Crawl.
Yard Sale Sa11y was designed last year, but will be making her official debut in the 2014 crawl Aug. 9 on a new tote to commemorate the event's 10-year anniversary.
Jenna French, Shenandoah County's director of tourism and marketing, said artist Anna Rodriguez created the mascot last year. Rodriguez actually approached the county, French explained, after creating it.
A contest was then held for local residents to find a name, resulting in Yard Sale Sa11y -- replacing the double L's with the number 11.
"We rolled her out last year but she wasn't on anything other than the website or the Facebook page," French said.
Creating a special tote bag for the 10th anniversary worked out well for French and her team -- that way, they could keep the traditional design of the yard sale's T-shirts. The totes will only be available this year.
Including nine towns, from Stephens City to New Market, the yard crawl has grown more and more popular with each year, French said.
At this point, she added, minimal marketing or advertising is required to draw visitors.
"It's word of mouth that has driven the growth of this event," French said. "Most people say that their friends came to the event and tell them that they have to come to the next year's."
The unique sale has numerous benefits for businesses in the community, she pointed out. It is very difficult to calculate how many vendors will set up shop on the road -- though the county does rent out particular areas -- because county residents are setting up shop in their own yards along the route.
This allows visitors to interact directly with those who live in Shenandoah County, and it also puts money directly into the pockets of local residents, which will then likely go to businesses.
"A lot of people complain about the traffic issues," French said. "And a lot of times shops won't get as much foot traffic because of that. But so many people say that they drive up and down [Interstate-81] and never stop, and now they know where all these cute little towns are."
So far, French said, she has gotten word that a significant number of people will be traveling to the area from the Norfolk and Richmond area, as well as Loudoun County and "all over the state."
She said, so far, individuals are also coming from the Baltimore area and North Carolina.
"It's great exposure for our area because thousands of people now know where these towns are and what they have to offer," French said.
For those who would like to stay informed about potential traffic snags the day of the event, they can sign up for an emergency phone tree by emailing French at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To sign up for a vendor space or to purchase a tote or T-shirt, visit www.Route11YardCrawl.org.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com