Annual treasure hunt starting to become tourist stop

Someone’s trash is another person’s treasure — It’s rummage sale season and the biggest one of the region has become a tourist attractions for people far and away.

A sign placed in the middle of Main Street in New England indicates the direction of a rummage sale. Last week communities stretching 100 miles along Highway 21 participated in the Highway 21 Treasure Hunt. [PHOTO BY COLE BENZ | The Herald]
A sign placed in the middle of Main Street in New England indicates the direction of a rummage sale. Last week communities stretching 100 miles along Highway 21 participated in the Highway 21 Treasure Hunt. [PHOTO BY COLE BENZ | The Herald]
By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

Someone’s trash is another person’s treasure — It’s rummage sale season and the biggest one of the region has become a tourist attractions for people far and away.

The Highway 21 Treasure Hunt was held June 19 and 20, and it stretched over 100 miles from New England to St. Anthony.

Event coordinator Luann Dart said the sales went really well.

“We had a really good amount of sales,” Dart said.

Sales were held in New England (25), Regent (5), Mott (23), New Leipzig (13), Elgin (22), Carson (16), along with Flasher and St. Anthony (12). All together the number of sales totaled 116. That number may have been higher too, due to late additions prior to the official start of the event.

The number of sales were great, but Dart said the traffic may have dipped slightly from last year. According to a contact in Elgin, Dart said she logged 280 people filtering through her sale, last year that number was over 300.

This was the 14th year the hunt has been held, a tradition created by Dart’s late husband.

The original idea was intended to mirror other regions’ sales events. He also thought it would be a good idea to get the communities banded together for one big event.

Right now it has turned into an economic development event, Dart said. People are stopping at the restaurants, gas stations and convenient stores while they are in these communities.

The event has grown since inception, and it has started to see visitors from out the state, and the country. Dart said she fielded calls from people traveling from Iowa and Canada, just for the sales.

“It’s starting to draw people like that, as kind of a destination where people are coming just for that,” Dart said. “So that’s been kind of neat to see.”

That is Dart’s hope, is that the event starts to become a bigger tourist attraction. Promoting the event is going to be a big part of achieving that goal. Last year the group received a grant through North Dakota Tourism and they used that money for promotions. This year they didn’t go through that process and Dart things that may have lead to the drop in traffic.

They estimate about 400-500 people walking through the sales every year, and though number dipped, Dart said that they probably were close to that.

Dart said the success of the event can be attributed to the communities banding together and the support they give to one another.

“The one unique thing about it is, is that all the communities were able to get together and pick a time and agree to do this as a group,” Dart said. “And I think that really is where success comes, is that all these communities have continued to stick together and do this event.”

A representative is designated to organize each sale, and the include: Butch Frank (New England),Kelly Stewart (Regent), Pam Steinke (Mott), Donna VandenBurg (Carson), Luann Dart (Elgin & New Leipzig), Laverne Seehafer (Flasher & St. Anthony).

The group does not try to add other activities to the event, because they want to keep the focus on the actual sales.

Next year’s event will be held June 17-18 and Dart said the deadline for sign up is usually four to five days before.

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