MINTURN — Imagine legendary astronomer Carl Sagan intoning “billions and billions,” and you’ll have some idea how much stuff is in this year’s Eagle Valley Community Fund rummage sale.
It’s in its 49th year and it’s still one of the social events of the season. Opening day will see 5,000 people through the door.
By the time they open at 6:45 a.m. Saturday, the line outside reaches the road. It costs $1 to get in, and it may be the best buck you’ve ever spent.
The cause is great. The event is better. You’ll buy stuff; you’re bump into friends. Vi Brown has been making friends here for 40 years.
“People get together to volunteer year after year and become great friends. Friends are my favorite part,” said Vi Brown, who has been helping run it with husband Byron since it started, about the same time Vail did.
Vi and Byron say they’ll be around for the 50th year and after that they’ll decide whether they want to go for 51.
Stuff, stuff and more stuff
There’ll be a silent auction for a 1995 Saab sedan. It’s low miles and it really was owned by a careful old lady.
The silent auction follows a classic Western philosophy — love your neighbor, but brand your cattle.
“The high bidder gets it, but they can’t drive it away until the check clears,” Byron said.
There’s a classic framed print of a majestic bull elk, “The Monarch of the Glen.” There’s a Spanish language James Bond poster, and a painting of happy animals strolling two-by-two onto Noah’s Ark.
“Biblical animals seem to be happier and nicer,” Vi said.
The real difference between men and women is that men can walk past the shoe room. Women will buy shoes just to keep other women from having them, and they have thousands of options in the shoe room.
Sporting goods boasts everything that ever inspired humans to bounce their bohiney off the Barcalounger.
A little pocket change will even buy you a couple Nordic ski poles. Vi points out that they make great walking sticks — “Much more hip,” she said. “And if someone irritates you, you can swat them with your ski pole.”
If you want to break a sweat for a practical cause, exercise bikes can be hooked up to generators to power electric lights.
“I call them Lamps Armstrong,” Vi said.
It’s no coincidence that the America Wall is next to the Cowboy Wall, which features both cowboys and Indians.
Jeans, sweats and sweaters are in one room.
“That’s the locals room. That’s what we wear,” Vi said.
Outside, the crutches are conveniently located close to the ski gear.
Out back you’ll find all kinds of furniture, tools, bikes. And you need a bedliner, so you don’t scratch up your truck as you haul your treasures home.
In the beginning was the deal
The Eagle Valley Community Rummage Sale started in 1964, just two years after Vail did.
Some local women were raising money to pay Vail’s first school master, back when the town’s first school, Vail’s Country Day School, was above the fire station.
Eventually, after they raised $50,000 to launch Vail’s first public school, they decided to channel the money into the Eagle Valley Community Fund. It’s become one of the area’s most beloved institutions.
Volunteers work on behalf of an organization of their choosing, and that organization gets a share of the profits.
Some folks volunteer more readily than others. Judges will occasionally sentence those who’ve run afoul of the law to volunteer hours.
“Those are the best volunteers, and they work so hard,” Vi said.
And it pays to volunteer. Volunteers earn money for the local charity of their choice.
Vi found $50 in the pocket of a donated jacket. She wanted to give it back to the donor, but there was no ID. So she’s doing the next best thing — buying stuff for her grandson at this year’s sale.
They run Saturday and Sunday, then need more volunteers to clean up and straighten up for next weekend’s Half Price Weekend.
Show up some time Monday. They’ll find something for you to do.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.