We’re all invited to discover 690 miles of yard sale bliss
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
How do you get speeding, hurried motorists who are breezing down the Interstate with blinders on to slow down, take a detour and actually enjoy the journey?
The answer, at least in this part of the country, is to create “The World’s Longest Yard Sale.” The sale is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year — a sale that offers up all things unique and ordinary to interested shoppers from Addison, Mich. to Gadsden, Ala., along the U.S. 127 Corridor. It starts Thursday and continues through Sunday. Blount Countians can jump in at exit 317 on Interstate 40, which is Crossville. Then you have the option of heading north or south. That’s six states in all.
Get out on the highway
“The original intent of the sale 25 years ago was to prove that back roads have something to offer, and that the interstate system is not the only mode for travel,” said Leann Smith, tourism and membership director for the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce. “Take advantage and see America.”
The first year of the sale was no small undertaking. The sale spanned 350 miles back then, in 1987. The original concept was that of then Fentress County Executive Mike Walker. Small towns, he saw, were being bypassed as motorists sped along the busy interstate.
“Since that very first year the sale has nearly doubled in length,” Smith said. “The first extension was onto Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway, which takes it into Georgia. Other extensions over the last 10 years have been into Ohio and more recently Michigan.”
The Lookout Mountain Parkway Association asked to be included in the sale route a few years after the sale began. The Lookout Mountain Parkway leaves Chattanooga as Highway 58 and becomes several different highway numbers before reaching Gadsden. It is no longer the 127 Corridor but is the same great sale, organizers said. The route crosses the northwest corner of Georgia, going into Cloudland. This added 100 more miles to the existing 350 those years ago.
Smith said she isn’t sure how many other yard sales of this caliber exist throughout the world. “We just got dubbed ‘The World’s Longest,’” she said. “Ours is probably one of the more well attended.”
If you are considering making the journey from Blount County, Smith said taking I-40 to exit 317 is the best option. “We, of course, then recommend that you come south and visit us in Jamestown,” she said.
As far as where the best shopping is located, Smith said each community has its popular hot spots. She’s been told the best part of the sale is between Pikeville, Tenn. to Albany, Ky.
There are folks who come here from other countries. From other states. They come with trucks hauling trailers. It’s an annual event for many of them.
Smith offers these other tips for yard sale enthusiasts: plan on taking your time. Pick one or two communities to visit instead of many. You will enjoy it more. Wear good walking shoes. Dress for hot weather and unexpected rains. Take plenty of water. Obey “no parking” signs. Seek shade whenever possible. Mark your calender for next year.
“For me, personally, I try to take a day, usually Sunday,” Smith said. “I take that day and I usually don’t get to see everything I want to see in Fentress County.”
The World’s Longest Yard Sale is held on the first Thursday in August through that Sunday.
The Fentress County Chamber of Commerce in Jamestown has served as headquarters for the 127 Corridor Sale since 1995.
Share the road
Traffic congestion is a part of the annual phenomenon that must be endured, Smith said. Some even travel the entire 690 miles. Smith said in her neck of the woods, the traffic jam might come from other sources.
“The biggest traffic jam you will get in here is if you get behind a tractor,” she said.
We may as well go ahead and plan for heat, this being the beginning of August. Veteran shoppers at this event come prepared.
“I have lived through sales when it’s rained and sales when it’s shined,” Smith said. “People come out in both.”
This tourism official admits this is a fun time of year for her office. They get to meet so many people who share stories of their bargain-spotting adventures.
After next weekend, you can add your own.