By Josette Keelor
Every year Brad Dellinger and his friends from Edinburg buy matching hats to wear at the Route 11 Yard Crawl. It adds to the experience and, according to Dellinger, helps lighten the mood when visitors to the more than 40 miles of yard sales become agitated with long waits or slow traffic.
Saturday's 10th annual crawl was no different, and predictions from the Shenandoah County Tourism office named this the most traveled crawl yet.
From Stephens City in Frederick County to New Market at the southern tip of Shenandoah County, Old Valley Pike had near wall-to-wall traffic for most of Saturday. The lines were visible from Interstate 81, where a roadside sign near Stephens City warned travelers heading south to watch for slow or stopped traffic.
Officially a Saturday event, the sales started on Friday, when nearby residents and others hoped to get a good start on the weekend.
Marcuse Truelove learned of the yard crawl when he moved to Middletown this summer from Northern Virginia. He started a day early.
"I just thought it would be easier to set up today," he said on Friday. A member of the U.S. Army Band in Arlington, Truelove raked in $160 by mid-morning on Friday. But his big-ticket item was an antique 1950 Chevy he hoped to sell for $20,000.
Ray Bauserman and his neighbor Jennifer Hall, of Middletown, also started early on Friday. Hall was hoping to sell a Yamaha dirt bike for $1,200 and a Honda bike for $1,000.
Bauserman was asking $50 for an antique water jug imprinted with a warning of a penalty against owning such an item: "$50 reward for evidence leading to conviction." The jug was displayed in its original crate.
"You can find the bottles, but you can't find the wooden crates for them," Bauserman said he learned from a customer that morning.
Amanda Keatts and Stephanie Ralls, both of Strasburg, weren't planning to sell anything Friday evening when they set up their table by the Founders Landing neighborhood, but according to Keatts, "People just kept coming and coming."
Ralls, who remembered evening shoppers going around with flashlights, said traffic seemed busier last year. But she was glad for the extra business this year.
"We're funding our Disney trip," she said.
Along the drive, the yard crawl lived up to its name, stalling traffic in places where motorists searched for places to stop or waited to rejoin the line.
But Sheila Elliott of Winchester praised visitors' good spirits, saying that hasn't been her experience at other yard sales.
"I want to say the people are so friendly coming down," she said. "Everyone says, 'Hi,' and I think that's so nice."
Misty and Derrick Pennington of New Market brought Felix, their miniature pincher/beagle mix, with them on a shopping trip for low-cost items for their children, and by midday, Pam and Scott Drummonds of Maurertown had sold all the furniture they brought with them to the Toms Brook property his family owns.
In their matching yellow construction hats, Dellinger's party from Edinburg weaved its way past tables topped with holiday décor, dolls and kitchen items, a collection of bicycles and a $300 trumpet that Melissa Whiteman of Toms Brook said she purchased for more than $700.
"Last year it was pink hats," Dellinger said, remembering they also wore tutus.
"We buy 'em in the yard sale and then we wear them all the way through," he said.
His friend Meghan Harrison agreed, "It's just a fun time."
Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or email@example.com