Are you ready to rummage?
MINTURN, Colorado – Imagine Carl Sagan repeating “billions and billions” as he strolls around the Eagle Valley Community Fund Auction & Rummage Sale.It’s 14 rooms stuffed with wonderful stuff, and all for a great cause.This year it’ll cost you $1 this Saturday and Sunday.”This year we have 14 rooms jammed full with everything,” said Sue Mott.It’s still one of the social events of the season. Opening day will see 5,000 people through the door.Merv Lapin’s hockey kids are firing up the grill for lunch, so figure on spending some time.People start lining up at 6 a.m. Saturday. The stampede starts at 6:45 a.m. when the doors open.Every year there is stuff that makes even the most reserved shopper’s pulse quicken, and exclaim, “Oh my Gawd! I’ve gotta have that!”Last year, for example, it was a camel harness for hitching up the dromedary of your dreams. One year it was an old school bus.This year, a bunch of that sort of stuff is being kept under cover for a silent auction, so you’ll just have to go see for yourself.And oh my, the things you’ll see.The Hawaiian Wall is next to the Cowboy Wall, which is just over from the Christmas Wall – and you won’t need to buy holiday stuff anywhere else.Before you buy exercise equipment, you gotta see theirs.Nancy Nottingham’s toy room is a thing of wonder. She has the stuffed animals organized by type. Build-a-Bear stuff animals are beside the Beanie Babies, which are by the regular plush toys, so try not to get them mixed up.Out back is a Hoosier cabinet not far from a player piano that actually plays, and in tune.The Vail Public Library donated some bookshelves and on them you’ll find more than 1,000 cookbooks. If you can’t think of something for dinner, you’re not trying.Locals have donated hundreds of romance novels, so they boxed them up. For $12 you can “Take a Chance on Romance” and buy a box of 50 or so.The VHS players come with five VHS tapes, which works out well because they have hundreds of tapes.A community jewelThe 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 schoolmaster, back when the town’s first school, Vail’s Country Day School, was above the fire station.Eventually, after they paid off $50,000 in costs to launch Vail’s first school, they decided to channel the money into the Eagle Valley Community Fund. It’s become one of the area’s most beloved institutions.Vi and Byron Brown have been riding herd on the community rummage sale since about 1968. Back when Dowd Junction was down valley, it took about a week to get everything sorted, priced, cleaned and ready to sell.Now it takes all summer, but they pay their people – sort of.Volunteers earn money for the charity or nonprofit of their choice for each hour they work. Groups from scouts to high school bands are there, usually having more fun than working people should. “We’re like the story of the little red hen,” Brown said. “If you don’t help make the bread, you don’t get any.”They can still use volunteers. Just show up. They’ll find something for you to do.Some folks volunteer more readily than others.Local judges will occasionally sentence those who’ve run afoul of the law to volunteer hours.And they work pretty quickly. Last year volunteer Dale Nelson misplaced his prescription sunglasses and wandered in late Friday afternoon looking for them.He found them in the sunglass bin, already marked. Two bucks.Giving it all awayThose who help prepare for the sale get pieces of a good-sized loaf. About 70 local groups split more than $190,000 last year, all portioned out based on how much volunteer time they donate to the sale.The Community Fund Auction & Rummage Sale raises around $200,000 every year and they give away every dime.Folks working to prepare for the sale range from school kids to grandparents, and bring a similar range of opinions and talents.Some worried that with the local economy in the doldrums, donations might be down. They needn’t be concerned.”People have been so generous to us,” Brown said.Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.