WARRENSBURG - A normally peaceful town known as "Gateway to the Adirondacks" is going to get its gates crashed this weekend, as tens of thousands of people descend on Warrensburg for the World's Largest Garage sale.
This virtual stampede for the mother-of-all community sales - which has earned the town national attention - depends on the weather, of course.
As of Sept. 28, local oddsmakers were predicting this year's sale would be a gangbuster, as vendor reservations for properties are way ahead of last year, and the weekend weather forecasts looked favorable.
Cheryl Kenyon, of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the event, nearly guaranteed there would be no rain Saturday and Sunday, the official days of the sale.
"This could be our biggest crowd ever," she said, noting that vendor space sales were up 25 percent over last year. "It's going to be gorgeous."
Although event sponsors are expected to delve into hyperbole, Kenyon seemed to back up her prediction. She said the weather couldn't be anything but perfect, considering a week full of rain prior to the sale.
"I'm positive the skies will be all rained out by Friday, she said.
Each year, as many as 70,000 people swarm through the streets of Warrensburg to discover bargains and collectibles during the World's Largest Garage Sale.
Featuring 1,000 or so garage sales and vendors, it's huge.
The event has attracted national attention, and its fame has endured for decades.
The sale has set records and launched knock-off events. It's helped local families cope with winter fuel bills. It's earned its place in the Guinness Book of Records. Most of all, it's given tens of thousands of people a reason to visit Warrensburg and experience the town's charm.
For two days, the streets of Warrensburg are awash in humanity and vehicles cram the town for a two-day frenzy of bargain hunting.
Whether it's collectibles, specialty or distressed goods, vehicle parts, antiques, old toys, vintage jewelry, household goods, tools - or virtually anything imaginable - it's all available at Warrensburg's huge sale.
The event begins this year at 9 a.m. Saturday. Oct. 2, and runs until 6 p.m., with the same hours for Sunday, Oct. 3 - and these are just the sanctioned hours. The advance sales start up to two days earlier.
Residents extend a warm welcome to all visitors regardless of the traffic and inconvenience. They urge all to return and enjoy a visit to experience the true character of the town - when there are 3,800 year-round residents here.
The event is not just about bargains. There's also a street-fair atmosphere, with plenty of carnival food - from "blooming" onions, sausage-and-pepper sandwiches and fried bread, to home-cooked food prepared by local churches and community organizations.
The carny food will be concentrated in a food ccourt at the Warrensburg Health Center parking lot - a new feature this year.
Also new this year is free handicapped parking at the intersection of Main Street and Stewart Farrar Avenue - that is, if you can make it through bumper-to bumper traffic. Also, the local fire company will be renting out in-town spaces beside their firehouse on Elm Street.
Also new is a lineup of entertainment Saturday and Sunday at both the Health Center lot and at the uptown Floyd Bennett Memorial Bandstand. Professional and amateur musicians and entertainers have volunteered their time to make their talents known. Rock n' Roll, country music, and blues are all on the schedule, which includes teen and pre-teen entertainers.
A recent addition to the sale is a gift basket of goods and services donated by local businesses. Raffle tickets can be bought at various locations through town.
Here's the scoop on how to avoid frustration of crushing traffic and maximizing time bargain-hunting.
• Arrive Thursday or Friday, check into an area inn or motel, or get into town before 7:15 a.m. on the weekend. A lot of vendors are setting up before the weekend, and many savvy shoppers who know this are getting "first pick" of a wide range of wares.
• If arriving on the weekend, get into Warrensburg as early as possible, and take the Northway to exits 22, 24 or 25.
• Avoid Northway Exit 23, the primary road into Warrensburg, since it becomes very congested. By 8:30 or 9 a.m. Saturday, traffic can be backed up for nearly two miles onto I-87 Northway. If you can make it off Exit 23, take a right turn to go via East Schroon River Road and follow signs to a free parking lot north of town and take a free trolley downtown.
• From Northway Exit 22, turn left onto Route 9 and drive just a few miles north to Warrensburg.
• From Northway Exit 24, go south on Schroon River Road and park at the county fairgrounds where shuttle buses will take visitors in and out of town.
• Or, from Northway Exit 25, head south out of Chestertown on Route 9 into Warrensburg.
Advisory to residents and visitors:
From Friday, Oct. 3 through Sunday, Oct. 5, there is no parking on Main Street from the Bandstand to Stewart Farrar Street, and on Horicon Avenue in the hamlet.
This parking ban has been approved, and will be enforced, by the Warren County Sheriff's Department, and has been passed as a local ordinance by the Warrensburg Town Board. Those who disobey this ban will likely have their vehicle towed.
Also, motorists are urged not to block driveways, fire hydrants or public access, nor park on private property without permission.
Event organizer Cheryl Kenyon urged all not only to obey the rules, but have a good time.
"The town's gonna be rockin' this year," she said.