Organizers said this past weekend’s 3-Day Road Market, along U.S. 21 from Harmony in northern Iredell County to Wytheville, Va., drew one of its largest turnouts ever.

The annual event features sidewalk sales, yard sales/flea markets, local arts and crafts, food offerings and community events in towns and communities along this 100-plus-mile, two-state stretch of U.S. 21.

The Thurmond Community Center, which leases out about 55 vendor spaces for the event around the building along U.S. 21 in Wilkes County, had an especially large crowd of shoppers on the first day (Friday) of the 3-Day Road Market, said Thurmond Community Center President Kevin Cheek.

There were shoppers from as far away as Florida and Ohio, said Cheek, adding that many were people buying inventory for their own businesses. He mentioned a couple from eastern North Carolina with a consignment shop who attend the 3-Day Road Market each year. The husband and wife both purchase items for no more than $10 to see which can make more profit after refurbishing and reselling the items.

Cheek said vendor space prices at the Thurmond Community Center range from $175 directly along U.S. 21 to $125 toward the back of the property. He became involved with the community center as a result of it sponsoring the Boy Scout troop he was in while growing up. “It’s my way of giving back,” said Cheek, who is district Scout executive for Wilkes.

Representative of towns and counties in this corridor come together as an organization called Take a Break from the Interstate to plan the 3-Day Road Market. Sparta businessman D.W. Miles organized Take A Break From The Interstate in 2012 to promote economic development through tourism along historic U.S. 21.

Miles said the 3-Day Road Market provides income for individuals and businesses in the U.S. 21 corridor, but it also showcases the towns and communities and beautiful scenery along the historic highway.

Before the age of interstates, U.S. 21 was an important north-south highway connecting the area around Lake Erie and the coastal areas of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Sometimes called the “Lakes-to-Florida Highway,” U.S. 21 was among the few true north-south routes crossing the middle Appalachian Mountains. U.S. 21 from Ohio to South Carolina was completed in 1926

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