Our Weekend-Trash Turned Treasure

This is Sarah Alexander’s vision: People walk through a Woodstock-like field. Good music, good food and good people abound. The vibe is friendly and peace-loving. And junk surrounds everything. 
“Peace, love and junk” – that’s what Junkstock is all about, says creator Alexander. The multi-day event draws junk vendors from across the country to hawk their goods. Visitors flock by the thousands to the site, an old dairy farm south of 192nd and Dodge. In June, Junkstock drew more than 15,000 visitors hoping to snag an old Mason jar, a sagging window or a handcrafted necklace. At October’s Junkstock Harvest Edition, Alexander’s list of junk vendors grew by 30; junk scavengers grew to 16,000.
Of course, items for sale at Junkstock aren’t strictly junk. “It’s junk that’s lost and needs to be re-found,” Alexander said. 
Thanks to a proliferation of do-it-yourself tutorials on sites like Pinterest, more and more people are seeing the value of bringing something old back to life. Vendor Cory Medina of Lincoln helps customers see the possibilities: a pair of 10-pane windows becomes a freestanding photo album if mounted together. For storage with style, nothing beats vintage crates and boxes. “Instead of going to Target to spend $35 on something plastic, you can reuse something and do something green,” he said.
The queen of Junkstock didn’t always realize her calling. In college, Alexander was an athlete; it wasn’t until she and her husband gutted a foreclosed home that she discovered her artistic side. Architectural salvage put the home back together; for example, 150-year-old newel posts support the staircase. A breadbox forms part of a pantry door. A working subway sign is installed in the mudroom.
The hunt for junk became Alexander’s obsession. “Driving on the road, I’d see something on the curb and I couldn’t pass it up,” she said. Her collection of junk ballooned, and her husband wanted his garage back. Junque Factory, the Papillion store she opened in 2011, was her way of giving those discarded pieces back their value. After Junkstock took off, Alexander closed Junque Factory to focus full time on the event. 
As Junkstock grows, Alexander sees it becoming a festival with a full lineup of music, food and family-friendly events – and even a place for RV campers. Future Junkstocks will be bigger and better, but with the same “down to earth, good people” feeling that was there from the beginning. “It’s neat to see people are living my vision,” she said.
 
Found at Junkstock
Speed limit sign from the 1930s: $65
Six-pack of vintage 7-Up glass bottles: $27.50
Rusty horseshoe: $3
Old window shutter: $30
Bedpost: $12
Retro refrigerator door with 
a ghost cutout: $125

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