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Meet the woman behind the biggest yard sale in Okanogan County

By Brock Hires

Okanogan Living

Everyone enjoys a good yard sale. But most pale in comparison to “Cook’s Annual Yard Sale.”

Ask just about anyone in northern Okanogan County if they’re familiar with the annual event, and most will likely tell you they attended it at some point or another.

“It’s the biggest in the county,” Jessie Cook said as a smile slipped across her face. “I’ve had people from Twisp, Winthrop, Okanogan. I always get people from Canada, too. I don’t know how they hear about it.”

With hundreds of customers and spectators each year, it’s no wonder the annual event is nearing its three-decade mark.

“This is my 28th annual,” Cook said, adding the inspiration for starting the yearly event began when she married her late husband Fred Cook. “Coming into the Cook family, Howard and Eva (Fred’s parents) had been doing yard sales for years.”

The yard sale began as a most typically do, before blossoming into an anticipated event with as many as 500-plus customers and nearly two-dozen vendors.

“I used to do a fall one, too, but the money just wasn’t there,” she said. “People are getting ready for winter, saving their money.”

In the early years she would set out across the state to find treasures for the sale. But nowadays, she has plenty of collectables, knickknacks and houseware on hand.

“I had a girlfriend who used to travel a lot with me,” she said. “I had three vans in a row. We’d just go fill the van up and comeback and then re-sell stuff here.”

Travels would often take them to western Washington, Spokane and Wenatchee seeking treasures.

“I haven’t went out yard-sailing to the other cities like I used to for seven or eight years,” Cook said. “And I still have plenty of stuff I’m pulling out.”

With vendors spaced out in her back yard – Cook’s event is far from a traditional yard sale.

From food and non-profit merchants to plants and miscellaneous craft vendors, the event offers a variety of just about everything.

“I’m friendly and I have a lot of friends,” Cook said noting she’s had as many as 18 vendors in past years with more 500 shoppers. “It’s an event of the county.”

“It’s always the first Friday and Saturday in May – the first full weekend.”



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