Paxton board will sponsor effort to bring back 'big, big' community sale

PAXTON — The park district board recently approved a plan to sponsor a Paxton Community Sale this spring that — if anything close to that of its heyday — would bring thousands of people to town.

The return of the community sale — which was held almost every year starting in 1960 until 2000, according to former organizer and Paxton resident Art Schmidt — is the brainchild of park district board member Brad Strebeck, who "has a passion for antiques" and owns such a business.

"It is kind of my hobby/second job and passion to do this," Strebeck said. "I know it was a big, big thing in the past here, and I just thought bringing it back would get the community together again."

Strebeck was given approval and support from the park board to put together an event that in years past was the biggest annual event in Paxton. That backing is important because it is "a large undertaking," said Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold. "It's a lot of work. I applaud these people to think about it, because it's a lot of work to get everybody in, get them registered."

Though no official numbers were available, "thousands" of visitors would come to town for previous community sales, Ingold and Schmidt both said. Interested parties would come from throughout the Midwest, said Schmidt, who as treasurer of the now-defunct Paxton Lions Club spearheaded the community sale starting in the late 1980s up until 2000.

There was a reason they came from so far, for just about anything and everything was available. The main items auctioned off were farm equipment and smaller farm animals, with antiques and household items also being major sellers. Strebeck said the plan is to auction off the same type of equipment and items as before.

"It was huge. You could see anything from farm equipment to furniture to dogs to farm animals like chickens and turkeys," Ingold said. "I mean, it was wild — cars, motorcycles."

In years past, Market Street would be closed for about six blocks while sometimes up to 30 auctioneers rattled off items up and down the road. This spring's community sale, however, will be held on the park district-owned property off the east side of Coady Park at the intersection of Summer Street and Stockholm Road. Strebeck already has four auctioneers lined up who would auction off different categories of items at the same time, and he said he may add more if needed.

The sale will be held on Saturday, April 7, beginning at 10 a.m. Items will be available to drop off from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. the day before, as well as on sale day from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. More information on the sale can be found on flyers that will be made available at local businesses and the park district's Civic Center.

Getting volunteers, Strebeck admits, will be a concern. He said it is "going to take the whole community ... to help out" to make the community sale a success. Those interested can contact the park district at 217-379-4203.

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