Virginia’s largest yard sale has been captured in a new documentary set to air June 8, 2011 at 8 p.m. on Central Virginia-based PBS affiliate, WVPT.
Titled Yard Sale Ahead, The Rt. 11 Yard Crawl, the documentary shot by WVPT Chief Videographer and Producer Ed Bickel for the first time chronicles the 43-mile yard sale stretching from New Market to Stephen’s City which sprang up six years ago as a way to support the local economies.
“I don’t know how to put it into a genre. It’s fun, it’s quirky, and it’s an extravaganza. It’s just a good, wholesome view of an event that happens here in the Shenandoah Valley,” said Bickel, who dedicated a year of his life to the project.
The Yard Crawl showcases a treasure trove of everything from the mundane and expensive to the peculiar and delicious.
Items from past years include cars and boats, pools, four-foot tall cat houses, rabbits for sale, human teeth in a glass. Along the way, visitors enjoyed treats like deep-fried dill pickles, cupcakes and lemonade.
However, the yard sale is more than just what’s being sold and bought. It’s a cultural phenomenon and an economic boon to towns in Central Virginia including Mt. Jackson, Edinburgh, Woodstock, Toms Brook, Strasburg and Middletown.
“You see all kinds of people, all shapes and sizes, from business men to farmers to corporate executives to Harley Davidson riders,” he says. “It’s neat. There are people you run into that you haven’t seen for years, and there’s opportunity for social events. And most importantly, it’s bringing revenue to the area and helps the local vendors and merchants.”
Bickel was first inspired to cover the annual yard sale while attending the event with his wife and kids.
“That’s the cool thing about a yard saleâ€”you never know what you’re going to find,” Bickel said, “and with 43 miles, there are a lot of cool things that could be out there. You just have to be at the right place at the right time.”
Bickel filmed last year’s Yard Crawl for the documentary, which took place Aug. 14. The seventh annual crawl will take place again this August.
“If I wasn’t out there shooting it this past year, I probably would’ve been crawling,” he said.
A production team member at WVPT for five years, Bickel has assisted in producing four previous documentaries for the PBS affiliate including The Latino Underground and The Lady Behind the Brush.