By Katie Demeria
WOODSTOCK -- The 10th anniversary of the Route 11 Yard Crawl exhibited how the event is changing -- and growing -- with each consecutive year.
Jenna French, Shenandoah County's director of tourism and marketing, said the yard crawl's event page was one of the top visited sites on the county's website.
The number of page views for July totaled 17,656. By contrast, in February the site had 1,555 views.
"It's incredible what [the yard crawl] has done here," French said during a tourism council on Tuesday. "It's phenomenal for the area."
The page views exhibited the event's growth in other ways, as well. The top state viewing the page was Virginia, but Kansas, Florida and Illinois were also in the top 10.
That growth has also been evident physically, French pointed out, with the event stretching throughout all of Shenandoah County.
"Visually, a lot of us felt as though it wasn't quite as congested as it's been in years past," French said. "Feedback has been very positive from all the vendors, though, in that their sales were up and they saw a great deal of traffic."
The difference in the number of people seen driving up and down Route 11 during the Aug. 9 event and the feedback from vendors is likely due to how large the event has become.
"As it's grown and continued, individual residences and businesses around Route 11 have continued to get on board and get involved themselves," she said. "So it's actually helped disperse traffic around Route 11, which probably gives the illusion of less people."
Congestion along the road, which is oftentimes one of the biggest complaints residents have about the yard crawl, has been decreasing over the years.
She added that this was the first year that no traffic accidents were reported, as well.
"We're continuing to see the interest expand throughout the country," French said. "Whereas it used to be more regional with people coming in from around the state and the mid-Atlantic area, now it really has spread to gain national interest, especially considering we do very little paid advertising for the event."
Most people find out about the event through word of mouth, French said.
The Yard Crawl has benefited immensely from the use of social media, she added.
"I think 10 years ago it would have been a lot more difficult to do some of that networking and promote the area," she said.
Many visitors found out about the yard crawl because someone they knew posted about it on a social media site, French said. It is also allowing people to express how much they enjoyed the event.
Most importantly, attending the yard crawl shows people what Shenandoah County has to offer, she said, and gives them a reason to return.
"We're seeing feedback, and people are planning on coming back -- that's priceless," she said.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org