Highway 21 Treasure Hunt celebrates 15 years, event keeps growing

Finding that hidden treasure is what it’s all about. This past weekend, rummagers ventured across the southwest region of North Dakota—through two timezones—for the 15th Annual Highway 21 Treasure Hunt.

Treasure Hunt sign (RGB)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.net

Finding that hidden treasure is what it’s all about. This past weekend, rummagers ventured across the southwest region of North Dakota—through two timezones—for the 15th Annual Highway 21 Treasure Hunt.

Organized by Luann Dart each year, the event was started 15 years ago by her late husband, Sam.

Sam Dart noticed that many communities were hosting city-wide sales, and based on experiences he had in the southern part of the country, thought it would be a good idea to incorporate multiple communities to hold sales on the same day.

“He drove up and down the highway and found volunteers in each community to kind of help pull [the event] together,” Dart said. “He worked really hard the first year to get it going.”

Fifteen years later it’s clear the work paid off.

There were over 100 registered sales, and the number is a little deceiving as there were multiple sales in each town that went unregistered.

“That’s [the number of sales], kind of about what we have every year,” Dart said. “We have a little over a hundred sales a year, it seemed like about what we had in the past.”

Dart does most of the overall organizing, but she was quick to mention her many volunteers from each town that help the local sales. Lavern Seehafer (St. Anthony and Flasher), Donna VandenBurg (Carson), Pam Steinke (Mott), Kelly Steward (Regent), and Butch Frank (New England) all give their time to help Dart make the event as big as it has become.

“Those are the people that really help in each community,” Dart said.

Dart herself is in charge of Elgin and New Leipzig sales.

Though she doesn’t have an specific method of tracking the amount of money exchanged, she does know that a good sale will net $1,000, and that’s how she estimates the economic impact of it.

“I kind of use that as my economic gauge,” Dart said.

The sales could potentially result in the exchange of over $100,000, and that isn’t counting money that’s spent on hotels, restaurants and gas stations, according to Dart.

The sale’s trail is so long that it encompasses two different timezones. And it features patrons from all across the region.

“They represent from border to border,” Dart said. “It’s starting to draw people just for this event, from quite a distance.”

That distance Dart is referring to this year is over 1,500 miles. She spoke with someone attending the event that’s from Pennsylvania. “That’s probably the furthest,” Dart said.

Overall Dart said the 2016 sales went really well. She had a sale herself and said the first day was “extremely busy.”

The 2017 two-day event is scheduled again for the third weekend of June. Which lands on June 16 and 17.

“I just hope that it continues to grow and draw visitors into our area,” Dart said.

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