Hungry shoppers jam Hampstead Day


Chris Lombardi fired up the stove and started cooking at 8 a.m. yesterday. The crowds were hungry at the 20th annual Hampstead Day.

Thirty minutes later, Mr. Lombardi and his Boy Scout troop were serving hot dogs piled high with chili and sauerkraut for breakfast.

"They were asking for the dogs way before they were done," Mr. Lombardi said.

He didn't find his menu unusual for early morning meals. "Goes great with coffee," he assured the skeptical with a smile.

For dessert, shoppers only had to cross Main Street, where members of Benjamin's Kriders United Church of Christ were selling fresh strawberry short cake.

The church's customers walked among other vendors spooning juicy red berries topped with whipped cream into their mouths.

"That's all the advertising we need," church member Pat Kellam said as she ladled more strawberries into a bowl.

Thousands of shoppers and diners filled the town yesterday as vendors plied everything from food, furniture and crafts to houses.

Yes, houses.

Catherine Schaeffer set up her yard sale items in front of a "house for rent" sign and fielded several inquiries for the absentee owner, a family friend.

"I gave them the phone number and they all said they were going to call him," said Ms. Schaeffer.

Sidewalks were so jammed, people walked single file, often rubbing elbows with those hurrying in the opposite direction.

"It's the weather," said Ms. Schaeffer, a town resident. "People are all over the place because it's so nice out."

The day was ideal for walkers, but impossible for motorists trying to navigate among jaywalkers. Gene Rill, who set up shop at the corner of Main Street and Route 482, said town officials should have closed off the main thoroughfare to traffic.

"One day out of the year, they could detour traffic," he said. "All the cars make it difficult for people to get back and forth."

Despite the distraction of horns and exhaust fumes, Mr. Rill, creator of planes, trains and boats out of aluminum cans, called sales brisk.

Town residents took the day as a sales opportunity. Many hawked used tires, tractors, bikes and baby clothes from their front porches and back yards.

Members of St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church sold colorful blooms and greenery to replenish the Main Street church's landscaping.

"We just expanded last year and had to rip everything up," said Dave Asendorf. "Now we have to reseed and plant trees and shrubs."

A raffle also helped pay for the $450,000 addition to the church, with Audrey Peregoy selling $1 chances on her hand-stitched quilt. One lucky buyer would get a $400 return on that investment, she said.

Hampstead Baptist's Main Street Muppets entertained children with lively song and dance numbers, while parents gathered bargains.

"Oh, no, Mom's buying something again," said one little girl, who spotted her mother carrying a chair. "There won't be room in the car."

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