Phun Photos as taken during 127 Sale

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The Highway 127 Yard Sale
The Longest Yard Sale in America!

Highway 127by Anna Collins & Carol Coloyan
photos by Anna Collins

Come with us to the most exciting yard sale you'll ever find! Travel rural Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama! Join us in our quest for collectibles, antiques, and fresh mushrooms!

Day 1 - by Anna Collins

So you think you're a seasoned yard sale shopper? You brag about being able to "shop till you drop" or until someone divorces you? Well you ain't seen nothing, my little shopaholic, until you've experienced the longest yard sale in America. The Highway 127 Yard Sale.

The 127 Sale is four days long, beginning on a Thursday and ending on a Sunday. This year the Sale took place from August 17-20. It starts in Covington, Kentucky at the beginning of Route 127, continues through Kentucky, Tennessee and ends in Gadsen, Alabama. There's approximately 450 miles of shopping where you can find everything from O.J. memorabilia to a zebra skin rug. (See upcoming photos.) The sellers range from people displaying items in their yards, to people getting together in parking lots, in front of stores, and even in open fields. Many of the sellers we met told us people from all over the country visit this yearly extravaganza. Some even take their vacations around the Sale, empty U-Haul in tow, to carry all their new found treasures. We brought a couple of empty suitcases.

How it Started

Mike Walker, a former county executive, wanted to bring travelers from the busy Interstate System to the smaller, less traveled highways of Kentucky and Tennessee. He thought a yard sale would be just the thing to lure folks. He was right. The event started modestly in 1987 and gets bigger every year.For more info visit www.sale127.com.

Day 1 - Saturday

Friday night, my traveling companion Carol and I, arrive in Cinncinati, Ohio (which is approximately 25 minutes to Covington, KY and the beginning of Route 127). That night we stay at a Holiday Inn. Check out Holiday Inns in the area. The next morning we get our reserved rent-a-car and we're on our way. (Note: We missed Thursday, and Friday but were told it was raining heavily Thursday, and many vendors had closed up shop. Friday, was overcast and muddy.) We have a lot of ground to cover in two days!

Our first stop was breakfast. We decided on the tried and true Cracker Barrel. (I always opt for Cracker Barrel when pressed for time and in unfamiliar surroundings. The food's good, the service friendly and the gift shop is awesome.) We had "Momma's Pancake Breakfast" (pancakes and eggs) for $6.29 apiece. A good stick-to-your-ribs breakfast for the long drive ahead. Cracker Barrel has over 420 locations throughout the country and you can find a location and more info at www.crackerbarrel.com.

Our first shop stop is in Union, Kentucky. We meet Rhonda Etson and her sister, Dawn Ryan. This is Ronda's first time doing the Sale and she's having it on the front lawn of her home. Her sister Dawn is a veteran, she's been selling at the Sale the previous two years. Before this year's Sale started, Dawn asked Rhonda if she had any room for a flatbed on her front lawn. Rhonda did. But it wasn't to sell--it was to display all the sale items. (We later found out a flatbed was a popular display rack for many vendors along the way.)


When I asked Dawn what items she thought sold the best, her reply was, "Just about anything!" The sisters had combined lots and were selling...well, just about anything. There was a slightly used Dooney Bourke purse ($50), Ralph Lauren jeans ($2) a Christmas wreath ($1) and lots of household items and children's clothing, mostly under $7. The girls agreed that each year the Sale grows bigger and bigger. (My traveling companion bought the jeans.)

Judy O'BanionNext stop was at Judy O'Banion's home in Union City. Her "real job" is working as an office manager, but she waits all year for the Sale. Judy told us, "1998 was the first time we ever heard of this sale. We save up all year to get items to sell. I enjoy it because you meet people from everywhere." She had lots of books and many household items for sale. I purchased a book by Studs Terkel called "Working". (Coincidently, I was looking for it in a bookstore, a week earlier. I bought it from Judy for 25 cents instead of the $6.95 list price. It was near new. I also bought a book called "Some Things Strange and Sinister" for 50 cents and Judy threw in a book on how to win sweepstakes and lotteries for free! Can't get a better bargain that that! Especially if I win!

We kept driving along 127 seeing sale after sale. Unfortunately, we couldn't stop at all of them because of the time factor, so we tried to stop at places where there were several vendors together to try and sample more sale items. Next stop? Beaver Lick. Yup. You heard me. (I'll wait until you compose yourself....) Beaver Lick had a great selection of vendors and merchandise gathered in one spot. We saw everything from old milk bottles to hunting knives to various antiques. I even found an item from my childhood.

Lamb MoldBeaver Lick

When I was about 5 years old, we had a neighbor who, at Easter time, would make a cake shaped like a lamb. Not a lamb just laying on the plate, mind you. This lamb sat up. The lamb cake mold had two sides, so after it was baked, you could fit the two sides together and it would sit upright, held together by frosting. I met a woman named Vicky Tewes who was selling that very mold. A mold I hadn't seen in years! My mother has always talked about that mold, so I bought it for her. ($15, marked down from $36) You can visit Vicky's shop The Thistlehair, at 105 Big Bone Road, Union, Ky., Tel: (606) 384-3317. (Big Bone Road isn't too far from Beaver Lick. Ain't life grand?) Vicky told me, "I've shopped the Sale in the past and this year I decided to try it!" She said so far it's been successful for her. After buying the lamb mold, Carol and I made a quick stop at the Beaver Lick Trading Post, just across the street, for a cold drink. Then it was back on the road again!

The BryantsOur next stop was at the home of Karen and James Bryant. The Bryants told me they had been selling items for over 5 years at a nearby flea market in Warsaw, but love the 127 Sale. This couple was selling everything from fresh tomatoes to Roseville pottery and collectibles.

They even had freshly hatched baby chicks! They were so cute! Besides selling their yard sale merchandise, the Bryants raise fresh vegetables as well, and had beans and okra for sale. And it all looked GOOD. (Not like that lame tasteless stuff you find in the supermarket these days.) Roseville

I debated buying the Roseville vase, but it was $75 and although I was told it was appraised at $150, I decided to wait and see what else the road held for us. After all, we still had hundreds of miles to go!






Finally we pulled into Owenton, KY and visited the County Parks Fairgrounds, where several vendors had set up shop in a big one-story building. We investigated. I was immediately drawn to a table run by Fred and Gloria Lohmiller. The Lohmiller's were selling vintage postcards (which I collect), stamps, sports collectibles, and vintage swizzle sticks. Fred had many letters from the 1800's; fascinating accounts of people's lives as they wrote to each other with a quill pen and a bottle of ink. I purchased two stacks of postcards, one for $5, and one for $4. I also bought some vintage Playboy Club and Las Vegas swizzle sticks for a combined total of $8.



 

They even had a zebra rug for sale ($300) and an O.J. book (from the "innocent days"). Why did the Lohmiller's get into this business? Gloria explained: "Our kids are grown up and gone. We got into it full time after they left. When you're used to having seven kids, you gotta do something!" They do a great job, too, and all the merchandise is quality.

Also, included in their wares were old campaign buttons, fishing lures, coins, and vintage tins.

By now it was getting toward dinner time and we were plenty hungry! All that shopping works up a girl's appetite! Finding a decent restaurant wasn't always the easiest thing to do on this trip, but we finally decided on Rio's in Frankfort, Ky. Rio's is a steakhouse with a casual atmosphere. (You can throw the peanut shells on the floor.) It was one of the better restaurants in town. We were told it was a 15 minute wait, being Saturday night and all, so we decided to take a seat at the bar. Jennifer, our barmaid, was very friendly and told us she's been working at Rio's "on and off for three years" although she did seem a bit confused when I asked for an imported beer. (We were in Bud country.) Jen dug me up a Heineken.

Less than 15 minutes later, we were led to our table. A booth. Way in the back of the restaurant. Our waitress, a friendly, yet slightly flakey girl, took a while to wait on us. Since it was a steak place, we decided on the filet mignons ($17.99) with sweet potato and sauteed mushrooms. "Are the mushrooms fresh?" I asked. "Oh, yeah," replied our waitress, "They never sit around long." Hmmm. We kept seeing delicious looking biscuits go by us, carried by other servers. After about 20 minutes, our food came. The steaks looked good, but instead of a sweet potato, we each got a baked potato, and the mushrooms were....ugh...CANNED! "What's up with the mushrooms?" I asked Miss Friendly but Flakey, "I thought you said they were fresh." "They are fresh, they haven't been sittin' out long at all." Oy!

"And what about the potatoes?" I asked feeling more and more like I was entering the Twilight Zone. "Oh we're all outta sweet potatoes," she said with a twang and a shrug, and walked away. No, can I get you a vegetable instead? No, would you like rice instead? It was taken for granted, as long as it's in the potato family, it counts.

The steaks were tasty and cooked just the way we ordered them. Halfway through the meal we had to ask for the biscuits. They finally came--luke-warm, but tasty, nevertheless. The biscuits are made with cheese and dill and are quite good. We only wished they had been hot. The speciality appetizer here is the Wild Onion, a deep fried whole onion served with dipping sauce. Besides several different cuts of steak, you can also get BBQ ribs, pork chops, scallops or breaded clams. There are also a few tempting surf and turf entrées to choose from. Lunch is also served. Rio's has seven locations in Ky, and you can get more info by visiting www.riossteakhouse.com.

And so, after our meal, with full stomachs, we made our way to our hotel for that night. We were more tired than a fox chasing chickens in the henhouse! >>more

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