For better than a decade, Polk County’s 39-Mile Yard Sale has been a great attraction for bargain hunters and pickers from all over. It stretches from Haines City to Frostproof each year with dozens of yard sales, garage sales and rummage sales dotting the route.
We usually try to see and do as much as we can over the five hours or so we budget for the trip. Usually we come away with a few treasures and about ten times as many memories.
A Great Start
This particular year, a cool front had moved through central Florida. The air was crisp as we headed toward “The Friendly City” to see what they had to offer. As they do for many events, Frostproof had closed off Wall Street. Both sides were lined with pop-up tents. Some were individual vendors, while others were clubs, groups or organizations looking to raise some funds.
We learned that Frostproof was one of the “official” sites of the 39-Mile Yard Sale. Others included St. Ann Catholic Church in Haines City, Lake Hamilton Town Hall, United Methodist Church in Dundee, Lake of the Hills Community Clubhouse, The Lake Wales History Museum in Lake Wales and The COOP restaurant in Babson Park.
There also were other individual garage sales on streets and roads just off the Scenic Highway. There were both store-bought and hand-lettered signs pointing us down adjoining thoroughfares. Some, who lived near the intersections, were easy to spot. Long lines of cars had parked along the berms with pedestrians roaming along the residential streets.
Not All Smooth Sailing
Like I said, there were so many places to see along the road we simply could not stop at them all. We also were slowed down in Lake Wales. A semi-tractor trailer rig had come across the road and jammed under a railroad bridge blocking the Scenic Highway.
There were no injuries – and the detour was fortunate for a few. It took cars through an adjoining neighborhood, and past several other nearby garage sales that might otherwise not have seen as much traffic.
The vendors were as interesting as the items they had for sale. One estate sale had each item clearly marked and the man in charge could quickly tell you what his items would fetch on ebay. Others were just as happy to sell things off to see them get a new home and make a dollar or two in the process.
“Make me an offer,” was a common overheard comment.
We saw a large truck bearing the name of Renninger’s – the large flea market located in Mt. Dora. Apparently they were in search of bargains that shoppers might see again.
At one sale, a man was in search of bedpans. Yes, he actually has 97 in his collection and is shooting for 100. And there were more than a few youngsters getting some extra use from their Halloween costumes. We saw several princesses.
Did we mention the food? There was no chance to get hungry during the 39-Mile Yard Sale. There were plenty of vendors with a wide variety of things to eat. From pulled pork sandwiches to lemonade stands, clubs, groups, organizations and individuals were looking to capitalize on hungry shoppers.
The Scenic Highway
For those who don’t know, The Ridge Scenic Highway extends 38.7 miles along the Lake Wales Ridge. Officially, it runs from its intersection with US 27 south of Frostproof to its intersection with US 17/92 in Haines City.
The roadway winds through the historic communities of Frostproof, Hillcrest Heights, Babson Park, the Village of Highland Park, Lake Wales, Lake of the Hills, Dundee, Lake Hamilton and Haines City.
We learned that money raised during the event goes to the Ridge Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity. That’s administered by the Polk County Transportation Organization. Its goal is to keep the Ridge Scenic Highway designated as a Florida Scenic Highway.
We have done a lot of shopping in out travels and Polk County’s 39-mile Yard Sale is one of our favorites. Plus – we have come to like Frostproof. From their periodic street dances to the Farm2Fork Restaurant it’s a quaint place. We especially love the 39-Mile Yard Sale as fun and inexpensive entertainment.