Region expects 5K for 11th Yard Crawl

Shoppers coming from hundreds of miles around will be wheeling and dealing down the 46-mile stretch of the Route 11 Yard Crawl starting at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce executive director Cheri Wright said she’s expecting as many as 5,000 people for the 11th annual Yard Crawl – almost double the turnout number from last year, which she attributes to lower gas prices.

Jenna French, director of tourism and marketing for Shenandoah County, said she started getting calls from shoppers all the way from New York and Michigan who were making plans as early as January, and many of the hotels along the crawl filled up quickly.

“It’s amazing how far in advance people make their plans to attend this with friends,” she said. “On Facebook, it’s just wonderful to watch how many people tag their friends and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to go to this.'”

New this year will be a social media scavenger hunt through Facebook in which participants will take pictures of at least 10 out of 15 listed items to find at the Yard Crawl. The first three people to email in those photos will win free T-shirts.

Combined with the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival’s concerts in Orkney Springs on the weekend and the warm hospitality the area has to offer, Wright says the Yard Crawl makes an excuse for many to stay in town the whole weekend. Several vendors have taken to setting up days early and continuing their sales through Sunday, although the event is officially only on Saturday.

“It seems earlier and earlier every year,” French said.

Shoppers can always get a sneak peek at which vendors they want to hit by taking a cruise down Route 11 before Saturday. Wright said there are quite a few vendors already set up around Fisher’s Hill.

“I kind of like that it starts a little earlier, just so people can come and then they’re not in such a mad rush on Saturday,” she said.

Although the Yard Crawl started out with most vendors setting up within the towns, French said the gaps have been filling in with more vendor presence over the years. Due to the sheer number of shoppers, though, not everyone can make the whole route in one day.

“We’ve been pretty honest when people call. … When you start in Stephens City you’ll make it to Woodstock, but you probably won’t make it down to New Market,” Wright said.

The forecast for the weekend looks bright with highs in the low 80s on Saturday and little to no chance of rain, according to meteorologist Dan Hofmann at the National Weather Service Office in Sterling.

“Overall it looks like a really nice and comfortable weekend,” he said. “The dew point will be in the low 60s for most of the weekend, which, for August in this part of the country is pretty comfortable.”

With the increased volume of traffic along U.S. 11 and Interstate 81, both drivers and pedestrian shoppers will need to keep mindful and stay safe on this busy weekend.

Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office urges motorists to park off the highway as much as they can, pedestrians to keep track of their children and for both to simply use common sense.

“There’s going to be some bottlenecks out there,” he said. “Be patient, be mindful.”

Whether for the unique deals or the thrill of the hunt on a beautiful weekend vacation, shoppers can look forward to a rewarding Yard Crawl.

“You can really find almost anything you can imagine at the Yard Crawl,” French said. “It’s become an annual tradition amongst families and friends.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com