Saturday, June 12, 2010
sponsored by 

From dreams to reality: Route 66 Garage Sale continues to grow

Send a link to a friend

[June 12, 2010]  When the Route 66 Heritage Foundation launched the first Route 66 Garage Sale event in June of 2007, Bruce Huskins had a dream for the future.

He envisioned the garage sales becoming a summertime tradition in Logan County. He saw the event growing large enough that it would break through county line barriers and overflow into other Route 66 neighborhoods. He dreamed that it would become a vital part of the Route 66 Foundation fundraising efforts.

When Huskins brought the idea to the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Lincoln and Logan County in 2007, he described it as "37 Miles of Smiles" and outlined how the garage sales would follow the Route 66 trail through Logan County, including the communities of Atlanta, Lawndale, Lincoln, Broadwell and Elkhart.

He proposed that the proceeds gathered from the event could go to the then newly formed Route 66 Heritage Foundation, to support the foundation's efforts to preserve Route 66 attractions in Logan County.

The foundation and Huskins decided on a few sanctioned vendor booth locations, established vendor space fees and wrote guidelines for the vendors.

Rules for food booths included strict adherence to local health department rules for food handling, and vendors had to ensure that all their items for sale were legal under applicable federal and state laws and local ordinances. The planners also decided that they would strictly prohibit the sale of guns at any of the locations.

That first year, the participation was even better than they had hoped for, and since that time each year has exceeded the one previous.

Talking Friday afternoon at Postville Park, Huskins said that this was the biggest year yet and he couldn't be happier even though it is a lot of work.

Huskins said there is a lot of planning going on throughout the year, but in the last 72 to 48 hours before the sales start, there is a real push to get everything done in time.

He said this year's guidebook, which is a whopping 30 pages, is one of the best that has ever been put out. He commented on one major improvement, saying that last year some had expressed dissatisfaction with the maps that were provided for the sale.

"This year, Misty (Bell, assistant to Geoff Ladd, the tourism director) did the maps. It was a lot of work, but they are really good," Huskins commented.

In the guidebook there are pages listing the sales in each town from McLean to Williamsville, with accompanying maps of the town and pin points on the address of each sale in that community.

The books are easy to read and the maps are clear and easy to follow.

While Huskins may have been the man behind the idea, he is quick to say that keeping the annual event going is a group effort. The planning is done by Ladd, Bell and Huskins, and volunteers are needed throughout the event to keep it running smoothly.

As was the original desire, the funds raised from the garage sale entry fees go to Route 66 preservation projects. For the last three years the lion's share of that money has gone to support the restoration of The Mill on 66.

Built in 1929 by Paul Coddington, the roadside sandwich stand was originally called the Blue Mill. The Blue Mill featured a Dutch windmill shape and waitresses dressed in blue and white uniforms like milkmaids.

In 1945 the business was purchased by Albert and Blossom Huffman. The Huffmans added a barroom and dance hall to the building and celebrated much success as well as notoriety.

In addition to local colorful characters like Coonhound Johnny, the establishment was known to be a favorite visiting spot for the notorious Chicago mobster Al Capone and many of his cohorts.

[to top of second column]

The Huffmans introduced the fried schnitzel to the menu at The Mill, and today that same recipe is used by the Huffmans' grandson at his restaurant on Lincoln's downtown square.

The Mill closed in 1996 and for the next few years was the topic of much discussion as to what to do with the old building. As it stood going to ruin, there was much debate on whether or not the building should be condemned and demolished.

In 2006, the old Mill got a second chance at life when at the pleading of Ernie Edwards, the owner of the Pig Hip Restaurant Museum in Broadwell, Ladd agreed to take on the restoration project.

Since that time, a great deal has been accomplished at The Mill, but there is still much to do. Fundraisers such as the Route 66 Garage Sale and donations from other organizations and individuals -- such as John and Lenora Weiss of the Route 66 Association of Illinois, who brought a group of association volunteers to Lincoln to build the new sails on the front of building, and Larry Van Bibber, who gave $15,000 to the restoration -- enable Ladd and a group of hardworking volunteers to keep plugging away at the work.

In 2009 the foundation's efforts to save The Mill on 66 were rewarded when the local icon was initiated into the Route 66 Hall of Fame.

Though it has been only four years, it can easily be said that Huskins' dreams have come to fruition. The Route 66 Garage Sale this year is the biggest ever, extending beyond county lines, and while raising money for the Route 66 Foundation has become a much loved annual tradition by most all of Logan County.






< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching and Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law and Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health and Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor