Look out central Nebraska - here come the junkers! By the time you read this the number of people along the Sandhills Journey and Loup Rivers Scenic Byways will have already begun to increase - thanks to the 8th annual Junk Jaunt.
The event was born in 2004, when members of the Loup Rivers Scenic Byway were discussing ideas of promoting the area. Someone threw out the idea of a garage sale marathon, which received laughs from some in attendance. Others thought it might be worth a try, and after some brainstorming the name “Junk Jaunt” was chosen - and the rest as they say is history.
Since that first year the event has continued to grow, and last year more than 20,000 people from 32 states and 70 of Nebrasaka’s 93 counties participated. The 300-mile 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. Most of the towns along and inside the loop participate in this 3-day event. In 2011, 33 towns are offering three days of garage sales and fun with 450 garage sales and antiquing.
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, “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.
During the event, the 128-page Shoppers Guide is available at many Junk Jaunt area businesses and most convenience stores. Always held the last Friday, Saturday and 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.
The event is featured in the September/October edition of Nebraska Life Magazine. For more information on the Junk Jaunt, visit their website at www.junkjaunt.com .