For its 15th anniversary, the Route 11 Yard Crawl is transitioning to a two-day event.
Sharon Baroncelli, executive director of the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce, said the event has always informally taken place over two or three days. When people came to town and realized they had missed out on some of the events, she said they were upset. By putting more dates to the crawl, she said the chamber can receive more positive attention than bad.
The crawl is over 40 miles of yard sales, with vendors lined up along and off U.S. 11 from New Market to Stephens City.
While the event is sure to draw hundreds of residents and visitors Aug. 9-10, the increased traffic will overlap with the final day of the first week of school in Shenandoah County.
Mark Johnston, superintendent of Shenandoah County Public Schools, said he isn’t concerned about the restructured event, saying that “operationally, it’s been a two-day event for a long time.”
“We have two years under our belt of going to school during the crawl,” Johnston said. “We haven’t experienced major impacts in the past.”
Law enforcement agencies up and down U.S. 11 echoed Johnston’s sentiments. While increased traffic is something they’re preparing for, there isn’t any concern about the likely glut along a major byway through the county. The extra patrols, however, will put an added cost on departments.
Capt. Wesley Dellinger, of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, said the event will really take place over three days as vendors start setting up Thursday evening before the crawl begins. As always, he said, the sheriff’s office will bring additional patrols out to help monitor traffic, enforce parking rules and respond to any accidents along U.S. 11. State police, Dellinger said, will be taking care of any issues on the highway.
Dellinger said extra officers will receive comp time and, while the sheriff’s office has access to grants that help pay for deputies to work on specific problems such as drivers under the influence of alcohol, those don’t apply to the Yard Crawl.
New Market Police Chief Chris Rinker said the extra patrols will add a cost, regardless of whether the department had budgeted for it or not.
“It is going to cost the town of New Market. It doesn’t matter whether we plan for it or not. It’s a cost,” Rinker said. “We may move some shifts around. I haven’t been able to determine what we’re gonna do yet. Or what we need to do yet.”
New Market, Rinker said, will be especially busy with traffic from the Yard Crawl as well as an event in Harrisonburg that same day.
“With the addition of these two events running through New Market, we are gonna have extra people out,” Rinker said.
He also said his officers will be making sure school buses can navigate traffic safely.
For officer safety, Rinker declined to say how many extra patrols would be out over the weekend.
North of Shenandoah County, localities are even less concerned about the event and its traffic.
Stephens City Police Chief Charles Bockey said in the past he has seen vendors setting up days before and it hasn’t been a problem.
Bockey said he does make sure to have extra patrols on duty but there haven’t been any serious incidents he can remember. He said the crawl through Frederick County won’t have any impact on children going to school because Frederick County Public Schools won’t open for classes until the following week.
Baroncelli said the change in the schedule should ease traffic flows as visitors will be spread out over the weekend rather than rushing in on Saturday.
“While the Crawl has only been highlighted as a one-day event, we’ve seen a decrease in Crawl traffic over the weekend as the traffic is now spread over a three day period instead of everyone trying to get the Crawl in one day,” Baroncelli wrote in an email. “Many visitors shared they would have liked to participate in the Friday also and were not happy to learn that it was taking place and only advertised as a one-day event. We anticipate the same traffic this year as we’ve had for the past three years.”