Submitted by Peggy Haskell and Sandra Lowery
Burwell, Neb.

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September 6, 2011
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Nebraska's Junk Jaunt is 300 Miles of Garage Sales and Fun

In 2004, Loup Rivers Scenic Byway members were discussing ways to promote the area when the wild idea of a "long distance, garage sale marathon" was tossed out. Some laughed at the idea. "Who in the world would come here to a garage sale?" Others decided that it was worth a try. The name, Nebraska's Junk Jaunt was chosen. It has been said, "Advertise and they will come - AND THEY DID."

Since the first year, attendance has increased steadily and in 2007 shoppers from 34 states were documented through a license plate survey and guest books. In the 1800s folks in covered wagons flocked to the area seeking their own special spot for creating their future and happiness. One hundred thirty years later, "junkers" are flocking to the area in cars, trucks and even large tour buses, to find the treasured remains from the 1800s.

The Nebraska's Junk Jaunt route forms a loop within nine counties in north-central Nebraska. The area is loosely defined by Highway 11 from Wood River and Interstate 80, north to Burwell and then west on Highway 91 to Dunning where it intersects Highway 2. At this point the 'loop' changes directions and follows the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway from Halsey to Grand Island and I-80. Most of the towns along and inside this loop participate in this 3-day event. In 2011, 33 towns are offering 3 days of garage sales and fun with 450 garage sales and antiquing.

A huge variety of wares, from pencil collections to farm machinery and hot dogs to homemade pies, can be found on the 'jaunt'. One can even take home a bottle of "Junk Jaunt wine" from Cedar Hills Vineyard in Ravenna, Neb. One Colorado couple was slightly embarrassed but tickled with their purchase of a real, honest-to-goodness outhouse. A man from Kansas filled his trailer with wringer type washing machines.

Terese Lech from Burwell, Neb., started making jellies and pickles for the church bazaars. People kept requesting them and soon she added a licensed kitchen onto her home and her production increased. Terese stated that she expected to sell a few jars during the first Junk Jaunt, but was overwhelmed by the number of people who came. To keep up with the demand, her girls waited on customers while Terese ran to the kitchen to make more jelly. Talk about "fresh" from the kitchen. Each year she has repeat customers and some come at other times of the year just for the Pea Patch jellies and pickles.

Kamp Kaleo, a United Church of Christ (UCC) camp located near Burwell, Neb., started asking their Nebraska churches for donated items to sell during the Junk Jaunt. During the past 6 years, the donations have increased from two over-flowing horse barns to four over-flowing buildings at the Burwell Rodeo Grounds. Janet Domeier, Junk Jaunt coordinator for Kamp Kaleo, states, "The first year we did it because we were handed a $5,000 increase in our insurance premium. As our reputation for great bargains grows, so does our ability to increase our service and programs. It has been a God-sent for the kamp."

This event has become one of the best organized and successful of its kind in the United States. Articles have appeared in national magazines from coast to coast. One couple was telling folks in Halsey, Neb., "We have been to the one that runs along the east coast and this one is much better and more fun. Heck, the folks are more friendly and even the road ditches are clean here."

Each of the Junk Jaunt towns has a coordinator and part of their duties are to register the vendors/sales. By registering, each vendor (garage sale or business) can list some of the items they will be selling and their location will be on the town map of their choice. Organizers say, "Support the Junk Jaunt by registering your sale and then let us do your advertising for you." All this information is compiled and printed in the Junk Jaunt Shoppers Guide, along with all sorts of useful information for the "strangers in town," like maps of each town plus each town's lodging, camping, eating, available services and points of interest along the route.

This 110-page Shopper Guide can be ordered for just $10, and will save that much in gasoline alone. It can be pre-ordered by mail or through the website, www.junkjaunt.com and will be shipped by 1st class mail during Labor Day week, or as soon as it is off the press. During the event, the guide is available at many Junk Jaunt area businesses and most convenience stores. For those who do not have a computer, information can be obtained by calling (308) 346-4815.

Always held the last Friday, Saturday & Sunday of September, the 8th annual Nebraska's Junk Jaunt is scheduled for Sept. 23-25, 2011. If you are planning to attend it might be advisable to be prepared for all kinds of weather.

In 2004, Loup Rivers Scenic Byway members were discussing ways to promote the area when the wild idea of a "long distance, garage sale marathon" was tossed out. Some laughed at the idea. "Who in the world would come here to a garage sale?" Others decided that it was worth a try. The name, Nebraska's Junk Jaunt was chosen. It has been said, "Advertise and they will come - AND THEY DID."

Since the first year, attendance has increased steadily and in 2007 shoppers from 34 states were documented through a license plate survey and guest books. In the 1800s folks in covered wagons flocked to the area seeking their own special spot for creating their future and happiness. One hundred thirty years later, "junkers" are flocking to the area in cars, trucks and even large tour buses, to find the treasured remains from the 1800s.

The Nebraska's Junk Jaunt route forms a loop within nine counties in north-central Nebraska. The area is loosely defined by Highway 11 from Wood River and Interstate 80, north to Burwell and then west on Highway 91 to Dunning where it intersects Highway 2. At this point the 'loop' changes directions and follows the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway from Halsey to Grand Island and I-80. Most of the towns along and inside this loop participate in this 3-day event. In 2011, 33 towns are offering 3 days of garage sales and fun with 450 garage sales and antiquing.

A huge variety of wares, from pencil collections to farm machinery and hot dogs to homemade pies, can be found on the 'jaunt'. One can even take home a bottle of "Junk Jaunt wine" from Cedar Hills Vineyard in Ravenna, Neb. One Colorado couple was slightly embarrassed but tickled with their purchase of a real, honest-to-goodness outhouse. A man from Kansas filled his trailer with wringer type washing machines.

Terese Lech from Burwell, Neb., started making jellies and pickles for the church bazaars. People kept requesting them and soon she added a licensed kitchen onto her home and her production increased. Terese stated that she expected to sell a few jars during the first Junk Jaunt, but was overwhelmed by the number of people who came. To keep up with the demand, her girls waited on customers while Terese ran to the kitchen to make more jelly. Talk about "fresh" from the kitchen. Each year she has repeat customers and some come at other times of the year just for the Pea Patch jellies and pickles.

Kamp Kaleo, a United Church of Christ (UCC) camp located near Burwell, Neb., started asking their Nebraska churches for donated items to sell during the Junk Jaunt. During the past 6 years, the donations have increased from two over-flowing horse barns to four over-flowing buildings at the Burwell Rodeo Grounds. Janet Domeier, Junk Jaunt coordinator for Kamp Kaleo, states, "The first year we did it because we were handed a $5,000 increase in our insurance premium. As our reputation for great bargains grows, so does our ability to increase our service and programs. It has been a God-sent for the kamp."

This event has become one of the best organized and successful of its kind in the United States. Articles have appeared in national magazines from coast to coast. One couple was telling folks in Halsey, Neb., "We have been to the one that runs along the east coast and this one is much better and more fun. Heck, the folks are more friendly and even the road ditches are clean here."

Each of the Junk Jaunt towns has a coordinator and part of their duties are to register the vendors/sales. By registering, each vendor (garage sale or business) can list some of the items they will be selling and their location will be on the town map of their choice. Organizers say, "Support the Junk Jaunt by registering your sale and then let us do your advertising for you." All this information is compiled and printed in the Junk Jaunt Shoppers Guide, along with all sorts of useful information for the "strangers in town," like maps of each town plus each town's lodging, camping, eating, available services and points of interest along the route.

This 110-page Shopper Guide can be ordered for just $10, and will save that much in gasoline alone. It can be pre-ordered by mail or through the website, www.junkjaunt.com and will be shipped by 1st class mail during Labor Day week, or as soon as it is off the press. During the event, the guide is available at many Junk Jaunt area businesses and most convenience stores. For those who do not have a computer, information can be obtained by calling (308) 346-4815.

Always held the last Friday, Saturday & Sunday of September, the 8th annual Nebraska's Junk Jaunt is scheduled for Sept. 23-25, 2011. If you are planning to attend it might be advisable to be prepared for all kinds of weather.


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The Fence Post Updated Aug 14, 2012 05:10PM Published Sep 6, 2011 01:32PM Copyright 2011 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.