World's Largest Garage Sale During the summer of 1980 the directors of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce met to plan fall activities. The challenge for the Chamber was to entice the thousands of fall foliage viewers to stop in Warrensburg, eat, and perhaps even stay overnight. Wanting to involve the townspeople, they looked at what townspeople enjoyed doing. And so, the first "Fall Foliage Weekend and Garage Sale" was born, Columbus Day Weekend, 1980. Residents were invited to set up tables in the Health Center parking area. The Chamber provided music and a food booth. There were perhaps twenty sellers that first year. It was nice weather and a pleasant diversion for the "leaf peekers." The next year it doubled in size. "Downstreet" Warrensburg got jammed, so the Chamber of Commerce found parking areas "upstreet" for vendors, who saw a good thing happening. Word spread. People came from all over the Northeast.
Due to complaints about congestion from local merchants that their regular holiday weekend customers were having a hard time getting to them, the sale was moved to the weekend before the holiday weekend. Without missing a beat, the event continued to grow, encompassing the entire town, and starting Thursday in some places. Estimates of between 50 and 100 thousand visitors fill lodging throughout the area. The benefits to the town are immeasurable. Its size and fame have inspired pride. Churches, civic organizations and high school classes hold fundraising events of a magnitude unimaginable before the Sale.
This brief history would not be complete without credit to the founders. Merlin Hathaway, the president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1980 called the special meeting. Local realtors Jane LeCount and Gene Magee, Bob Decker of State Bank and Steve Parisi, lodging owner, were among those who served on the early committee that kept the event on track. Before home computers became the norm the public access computer at Richards Library was employed to keep track of all the vendors and their locations in town. Chamber sponsored locations included sidewalk sites in front of Niagara Mohawk (now National Grid), parking lots at the Health Center (when it faced Main Street), Town Hall, Alexander Funeral Home, State Bank (now Glens Falls National), and the entire field on which the current post office is located. Numerous private homes and businesses began renting out sites on their own. To help keep fire lanes open outlying parking areas were added and school buses provided free shuttle service. Thirty-seven years later subsequent Chamber administrations have continued to maintain this signature event of Warrensburg.