DARKE COUNTY — The stretch of U.S. 127 between Greenville and Eaton was lined with dozens of yard sales and garage sales this weekend, as part of an annual event that stretches south from Addison, Michigan all the way to Gadsden, Alabama, a distance of some 700 miles.
Dubbed “The World’s Longest Yard Sale,” the event started in Tennessee in 1987, and typically takes place the first Thursday through Sunday in August. The original route stretched from the Ohio River south of Cincinnati to Chattanooga, Tennessee, but has since been nearly doubled.
Signs advertising everything from vehicles for sale to antiques to vintage children’s books were visible along 127 over the weekend. A cluster of tents surrounded a tank in front of the American Legion Hall in West Manchester while a series of signs made of orange construction paper, pasted to telephone poles north of Castine, promised barn sale items boasting “stuff that ain’t even worth fixin.’”
According to the official website, sales along the route consist not only of traditional yard and garage sales but professional vendors who rent space from local residents and property owners. Locally, Darke County Steam Threshers in Greenville and RNG Rentals in Versailles offered space for rent, as well as Boulder Belt Eco-Farm in Preble County.
Rita Lawrence, of Richmond, Indiana, has been participating in the 127 yard sale event for the last six years or so. Her daughter lives in Castine, she said, so Lawrence drives over from Indiana each year with a motor home full of goods to sell.
“We have stuff from like five different people here,” Lawrence said. “The more stuff you have, the more people are going to stop. So it kind of helps to have several different families involved.”
The items on sale this weekend include everything from old toys and pottery to farm-fresh eggs and popsicles, according to Lawrence, who said she loves the opportunity the event gives her to meet new people from far-away places.
“We had three people from France come through the other day, I kid you not,” Lawrence said. “And two people from Canada the day before that. We’ve had people from Wisconsin, Salt Lake City, Alabama. I enjoy talking to people and asking them about where they’re from.”
The event also can have its troublesome side, however. A two-vehicle crash near York Woods Saturday morning led to a long back-up, a problem compounded by the additional yard sale traffic.
A police department in Tennessee made a humorous post to its Facebook account, warning followers, “If you don’t know how to parallel park, don’t try it during the 127 yard sale,” accompanied by an amusing photo.
Police in Jamestown, Kentucky, meanwhile, issued a more sober warning, cautioning against issues such as distracted driving, parking on sidewalks and drivers apparently just stopping in the middle of the road to check out sales.