Doubters proved wrong
12th year of Treasure Hunt brings new travelers to US36
By Deb Hadachek
Belleville Telescope editor
“It will never work.”
That’s what a friend told Paul Kallman a dozen years ago when local members of the US36 Highway Association proposed a 400-mile long flea market along the route from state border to state border.
But this weekend, Thursday, September 15 through Sunday, September 17, carloads of people hunting for bargains and antiquities from hundreds of vendors along US36 and beyond are expected to descend upon the area for the US36 Treasure Hunt.
Kallman and fellow Scandia boosters Jane Ann Carlgren and Jim Erickson saw similar events flourish along routes in other states, and thought the idea could work in Republic County as well.
As of early this week, more than 50 vendors in Republic County were listed on the official map on the US36 website, and at least that many more unofficial sales will spring up, Kallman says.
“It just keeps growing,” said Carlgren of Scandia’s downtown, which is only listed as one site on the map.
She estimated 40 vendors will be in downtown Scandia, with many more garage sales planned, but not listed.
Kallman said the US36 Association secretary called him last week and said Republic
County had received 3,200 “hits” on the treasure hunt website, a high for the hunt.
Kallman’s antique business on US36 Highway, Second Time Around Consignments next to Dollar General and the Plaza Motel are also single locations loaded with other vendors.
“This is something much more than we expected,” says Kallman, who was elected
president of the US36 Association earlier this year. “The economic impact–visitors bring cash, vans, trailers, and bungee cords.”
Kallman says its hard to know what shoppers will be looking for at any given Treasure Hunt. Mid-century modern and primitive seem to be popular, but one year vendors were taken aback by the requests for bedsprings and hinges.
“It’s whatever is popular on Pinterest is what people are looking for,” Kallman says, noting a popular internet craft site.
For Kallman, the event also showcases the cities and businesses along the US36 corridor that visitors may never have seen if it weren’t for the Treasure Hunt.
He has made it his mission as president to bring new attention to US36 as an east-west alternative to I-70, and the many towns along the route that are treasure themselves.
“A couple from Indiana stopped by last week driving a 1949
Hudson (automobile) headed to a show in Colorado,” Kallman says. “They said they’ve driven US36 for the last five years and it’s their favorite highway.
“It’s stories like that is what we hope people find, and will keep using the highway.”
Republic County Maps
Find more information at www.ushwy36.com.