Shoppers unfazed by cold, rain at  Bernardston’s ‘Tag Sale Extravaganza’

  • Shoppers at Saturday’s Tag Sale Extravaganza at the United Church of Bernardston warmed up with Tom Bergeron’s French fries. Bergeron said he once brought up the idea of fries at a meeting and it stuck with him. “I suggested French fries and 12 years later I’m still doing it,” he said. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Bob Allen, one of the organizers of Saturday’s Tag Sale Extravaganza in Bernardston, said that despite the dreary weather, a “phenomenal amount of people” showed up. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 5/30/2021 9:06:29 PM

BERNARDSTON — Unseasonably cold weather and a steady stream of rain can’t stop hardy New Englanders from making it to a tag sale.

Despite Saturday’s forecast calling for temperatures in the mid-40s and rain throughout the morning, the United Church of Bernardston’s “Tag Sale Extravaganza” drew what Bob Allen, one of the event’s organizers, called a “phenomenal amount of people.”

The church organized the event in lieu of the town’s annual Gas Engine Show and Flea Market, which was canceled for the second consecutive year due to coronavirus concerns.

Allen, who has been with the church for 20 years, said the event was a nice way to get the community out.

“I’m looking forward to seeing people,” Allen said. “It’s nice to see the amount of people here. I think people are ready to get out.”

The tag sale is a much smaller event than the Gas Engine Show and Flea Market, and only needed a team of 15 to 20 volunteers compared to the more than 100 people that are usually required. Allen said there were “no challenges at all” in setting up the tag sale and that the church is looking ahead to the future.

“Hopefully, next year it’s back to the Gas Engine Show,” Allen said.

Shoppers also had the opportunity to fill and warm themselves up with Bergy’s Famous Homemade French Fries or hot dogs and hamburgers grilled by the Bernardston Veterans Club.

Jason Burbank, who has spent 30 years with the church and has been one of the tag sale’s organizers for the past three years, spent his morning cashing people out and helping others load furniture into their vehicles.

Burbank said the attendance of a tag sale in the fall and this year’s rain-soaked event has been surprising.

“We were totally flabbergasted that, mid-pandemic, people came out,” Burbank said. “Once again, this year with the weather, I’m amazed and delighted.”

Debbie Delabruere, who lives in Bernardston, has not missed the Gas Engine Show and Flea Market since she moved to town 14 years ago, a move she said was inspired by her experience at the show.

“After the Gas Engine Show, I realized how much I loved Bernardston,” she said, “and I bought a house here.”

Delabruere said the show was something that her children loved and she is glad the church decided to still have the tag sale portion of the event so people can come together after a tough year.

“It’s so good to see them continuing something so it doesn’t disappear,” Delabruere said after paying for her bagful of items. “It feels really good coming out of hibernation.”

Nancy and Len Foisy, of Savoy, traveled to the tag sale despite never having been to the show because they needed to get out of the house.

“We’ve got to do something,” Nancy Foisy said. “It’s nice to see the people. We’d just like to see the sun.”

The couple said it had been a long year because of COVID-19 restrictions, and seeing other people in public was a great experience.

“You just want to hug everyone,” Nancy Foisy said before her husband quickly chimed in with, “No, I don’t.”

Northfield resident Mark Trumbull said he’s been going to the Gas Engine Show and Flea Market for years. During its COVID-19-related cancellations, Trumbull said he missed the event because “it brings people together.”

He said the tag sale was great to go to because it shows people are beginning to become comfortable with attending gatherings again.

“It’s nice to see people together and talk to them,” Trumbull said. “People are starting to come out again.”

Chris Larabee can reached at or at 413-930-4081.

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