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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

Bama's 127 Yard Sale & UFO fun

August means the annual 127 Yard Sale plus celebrating aliens in northeast Alabama.

Do you love yard sales but wish there was more than one or two in your neighborhood every weekend? Take heart, for the "World’s Longest Yard Sale" happens this Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 3-6, 2023. The 127 Yard Sale covers 690 miles along Highway 127 from Gadsden, Ala., to Addison, Mich. We’re talking vendors selling antiques, collectibles, furniture and yes, maybe junk, for miles and miles!

And that means four Southern states: Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. According to DeKalb County Tourism of Alabama, there are estimated to be more than 1,000 vendors in Alabama alone. Check out this list of single locations and/or small areas with a minimum of 25 vendors each in Alabama.

If you want to make a scenic journey while nabbing sales, start at Gadsden and make your way up to the Alabama and Georgia mountains through the 93-mile Lookout Mountain Parkway. This incredibly scenic drive has been touted “A Must See” by Reader’s Digest, National Geographic and Southern Living magazines. To view the route, click here.

For a full map of the entire 127 Yard Sale route as it continues through the Midwest into Michigan, click here.

Vendors are typically up and running by 8 a.m. and operate until late in the evening each day of the event, DeKalb tourism said. Shoppers are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes, bring insect repellent, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and water. For more advice on tackling this massive route of sales, click here for "Yardsalers 101." The link also offers available accommodations along the route. For some of our overnight suggestions, see below.

And now for those UFOs…

On Feb. 11-12, 1989, more than 50 people, including the chief of police, reported seeing odd objects flying over the small community of Fyffe on the top of Sand Mountain, part of the southern-most tip of the Appalachian Mountains in northeastern Alabama. The rash of UFO sightings, and the thousands of people who arrived looking for UFOs, resulted in the town being named the UFO Capital of the World. Not to be outdone, the state later proclaimed it the UFO Capital of Alabama.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, the 18th annual Fyffe UFO Day Festival will kick into gear. There will be hot air balloon rides, arts and crafts, games and inflatables for children, a 5K run, an antique car and tractor show, food vendors and live music. All activities will be from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Fyffe City Park at the corner of Paul Benefield Lane and Church Street unless noted otherwise. Admission is free. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets.

Want to know more about that rash of UFO sightings in 1989 and a few Alabama UFO reports preceding Fyffe’s encounters? Click here.

Do watch this funny Fyffe commercial created to keep teenagers from drinking and driving with the city’s UFO reputation as a backdrop. Gotta love the sheriff’s cat and the fact that aliens recycle.

Our suggestions on where to stay

The 127 Yard Sale travels through the small but adorable town of Mentone, but it’s a short drive northeast of Fyffe and Fort Payne so accommodations here work well for both events. We recommend one of the tiny homes at Crooked Tree Cabin on Emmye and Seth Wilson’s blueberry farm. The sweet accommodations are located down a dirt road off the main highway so it’s both a delightful experience and a quiet respite from the harried world. Our cabin included a master bedroom, two bunk beds and a sleeping loft but also an outdoor day bed for those wishing to sleep in fresh air. There’s also a full kitchen and bath, comfy living area with TV and a faux fireplace for those chilly nights when they finally arrive.

Crooked Tree Cabin
Mentone's Crooked Tree Cabin

DeSoto State Park, a little closer to the larger metropolis of Fort Payne and Fyffe offers cabins, a lodge, chalets and campsites as well as opportunities to hike numerous trails, many of which lead to waterfalls and mountain vistas. The park also offers ranger-led programing, kayaking, bird watching and horseback riding, among other activities.

Up on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee, only about a mile from the Georgia border, the RiverView Inn provides spectacular views of the Cumberland Plateau and the Tennessee River. Each cottage-style room features comfortable beds and linens, modern baths, a microwave and fridge and a balcony to enjoy those incredible views. There’s also a saltwater pool, fire pit and free breakfast every morning. It's a fast drive to Lookout Mountain attractions, such as Rock City, but also a quick trip into downtown Chattanooga.

Food and Spirits

Thanks to Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association and Laurie Rowe Communications for the following ideas for dining and quenching a summer thirst.

North Alabama’s Craft Beer Trail and Barbecue Trail make a great combination for a flavorful tour of the region. Local brewers like Back Forty Beer Company (200 N. Sixth St., Gadsden; 256-467-4912), Goat Island Brewing (1646 John H Cooper Drive, Cullman; 256-747-5556) and Main Channel Brewing (2090 Gunter Ave., Guntersville; 256-960-5070) and more dot the map. Each offers local flavor as well as a bit of local culture, with brews such as Paw Paw’s Peach, Sipsey River Red and more.

And for anyone who’s joined the debate about where the best barbecue can be found, North Alabama makes a strong case for its fare. Two of the best-known options have multiple locations across the region. Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q (1715 Sixth Ave. SE, Decatur; 256-350-6969) was founded here decades ago and is now widely recognized as one of the most prestigious barbecue restaurants in the world, having earned 15 World BBQ Championships. In addition to the delicious smoked meats, Big Bob’s is known for its Original BBQ White Sauce. LawLers Barbecue (1506 Highway 72, East Athens; 256-233-1818) is a local favorite in the region. The menu includes traditional smoked meats, of course, but the stuffed potatoes, slaw dogs and nachos top the list for many. Another local favorite is the flavor of the slow-cooked pork, beef, chicken, ribs and turkey breasts, basted in special basting sauce at Whitt’s Barbecue (1397 East Elm St., Athens; 256-232-7928). Their first restaurant was opened in 1966 and now the fourth generation is continuing the tradition at five locations.

Weird, Wacky & Wild South blog is written by Cheré Dastugue Coen, who always brakes for yard sales. She's also the author of the Viola Valentine paranormal mystery series under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her latest, "Ghost Fever," sports a few UFOs.

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