Traveling for Treasures
The Belleville Telescope
By Deb Hadachek
In its 20 some years in business, the staff at the Belleville Dairy Queen has learned how to handle crowds. But the US36 Treasure Hunt last weekend set a new level for what the word “busy” means, says owner Jeanette Sheets. A steady stream of customers patronized the businesses along US36 through the weekend as they drove from town to town along the northern tier of counties in Kansas for the 400-mile event. “The only other day of the year that might compare for us is Saturday of the (NCK Free) fair,” says Sheets. “This Treasure Hunt has a pulse, it’s beating, and it’s big. I don’t know if the people who started it ever dreamed it would turn into what it has become.” Sheets, who also rents storage units near the Dairy Queen, had two women from Topeka ask Friday afternoon if she had space available. “They left Topeka at 4 a.m. and came through Friday afternoon looking for a place to store there stuff so they could keep on going down the highway,” she said. “Their car was full and they wanted to keep going. They came and picked up their stuff on Monday.” With all the local motels full, Sheets also found herself fielding requests for where people could spend the night—and where the nearest U-Haul trailer rental site was located.
Pinterest big help
For Paul Kallman, one of the founders of the event along with Jane Ann Carlgren and Jim Erickson at Scandia, this weekend’s turnout was a reflection of the potential they saw in the event when it first started eight years ago. Patterned after a similar multi-state yard sale in the east, more communities along US36 have begun to take advantage of the event. “Norton, Smith Center, Phillipsburg, St. Francis–alot of towns got on board this year,” he said. “I heard good things about the sales in those places, too.” The US36 Treasure Huntfalls the weekend before the Nebraska Junk Jaunt, and people from other states time their trips to the Midwest to hit both, he said. “I just had a steady stream of people all weekend,” says Kallman, who operates his own site and provides vendor space at US36 and K ST. “Overall people felt like their sales were up from last year.”
Every year is a new guess for vendors on what items people might be on the hunt for. At a sale in Cuba, Ray Reynolds said rusty metal like horse bits sold well this year, and Kallman agreed. “I got a lot of requests for old rusty hinges,” he said. “Metal signs–the buyers like metal. I had a lot of diverse vendors–jeans, tools, hunting and fishing- -and people liked that diversity.
“Pinterest (an internet site where people share craft ideas) has been a Godsend for us. People are looking for things they can repurpose and repaint.” Kallman said “shabby chic” furniture was popular, even if it needed repairs. “I had one vendor that was selling shipping crates like crazy–the kind that produce comes in, with the labels on. Antique quilts also sold well this year. “You just can’t out guess what shoppers will want.” Some of the shoppers are dealers, looking for inventory for their shops, he said. But many are just people who like to search for collectibles. “People are interested in items that reminded them of their childhood,” he added. “Even things like chicken waterers.”
Criquet Cole, field representative for the US36 Highway Association based in Phillipsburg, said 38 communities across Kansas participated in the Treasure Hunt.
“This year we had more places like Haddam and Morrowville and Agenda, Sabetha and Robinson participating towns that are not right on 36, but a few miles off.” In the days leading up to the Treasure Hunt, the US36 website had more than 7,000 hits—including 1,500 the night before the event began. Top states represented in the searches were Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado, Texas, California, Florida, Illinois, Georgia and Minnesota, although Cole said in Phillipsburg they also saw cars from states like Washington, Illinois and Iowa.
A popular related event in Phillipsburg was an appearance by Dr. Jason Combs of the University of Nebraska at Kearney who is an antiques appraiser. More than 40 people took advantage of having their own treasures- or their finds on the hunt– appraised. “I had a lady from Iowa call me from Mankato and ask how long Dr. Combs was going to be in Phillipsburg–and how long would it take her to get there,” Cole says. “They had found an antique fishing pole, and wanted to get it appraised.” The most unusual item brought for appraisal was an 18th century bath urn, she said. Cole also visited with a couple from Illinois who were “playing hopscotch” across the state, and by the time they reached Phillipsburg, were in the market for a second trailer.
The Courtland Journal
By Norma Aspegren
… It is unbelievable when you visited in Scandia this past week. You would wonder what are all these people doing here and cars parked on the side streets. It was the 8th year for the Highway 36 Treasure Hunt across Kanas from Colorado to Missouri border.
On Wednesday many of the vendors started setting up, by Thursday there were already people in town. Friday and Saturday were packed days. Sunday wasn’t so large. There were vendors for two blocks of the street on both sides from TAG’s restaurant to the museum. The park and other empty lots, overflowing with vendors and items about anyhing you were looking for. All the food served was delicious… There were over 50 vendors for this year. The old gym was over flowing and full with items outside. The American Legion Hall, the conference room at the city office and many individual home sales were available. We tried to keep track of the states that were here for this and they were: Texas, New York, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Alabama, Wyoming, Arkansas, California, Utah, Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico. We have probably missed some. Many told us they come just for a purpose for this, it is a vacation planned. It seems to be growing each year. We were told we need to extend a big “Thank You” to our 36 committee who have been promoting and working on this for the past 8 years, and after a little rest the three of them, Jim Erickson, Jane Ann Carlgren and Paul Kallman will be starting to work on next year’s Treasure Hunt. It is always held on the third week in September.