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Fentress judge finds 'Camelot' at US 127 yard sale

7:06 PM, Aug 1, 2013   |    comments
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Thursday kicked off the 26th edition of the annual "World's longest yard sale" on U.S. 127. 

The event was the brainchild of Fentress County leaders in the 1980s and has now grown into a 690-mile sale that stretches from Michigan to Alabama.

With hundreds of miles of merchandise, this year the item that is arguably turning the most heads on the highway is not for sale.

"We got really lucky this year and bought a big gold camel to put out front," said vendor Todd Burnett.  "Someone offered us $800 for it and we almost sold him earlier in the week, but decided we just couldn't part with him."

Burnett wears a tie-dyed shirt as he shuffles back and forth between several tents at his yard sale in the Fentress County community of Grimsley just south of Jamestown.  Most visitors have no clue Burnett is also the general sessions judge in Fentress County.

"I have been [judge] for about seven years. We take off for a few days every year for the yard sale, but other than that it's a pretty busy job being judge," laughed Burnett.

One cannot help but come up with all sorts of crazy marketing slogans and puns for a judge who runs a yard sale.  While the thought of conjuring up phrases like "you won't have to plea for these bargains" or "we sentence you to savings" can be entertaining, Burnett says actually mentioning his elected position during the yard sale would be an exercise in poor judgment. 

"Ethically in the state of Tennessee, they kind of frown on us using our judicial positions for other gain. So, I don't do that. That is the rule and it should be," said Burnett.

There are also no scales, robes, or other imagery related to the legal system for sale in Burnett's many tents of nick-knacks.

"I don't even have anything that could be remotely construed as a judge-related item, other than a big old antique wooden hammer that would be a really over-sized gavel," joked Burnett.

Burnett says he has sustained his spot along the U.S. 127 yard sale for reasons other than money.

"I have always been a people person and like meeting people.  There are folks who come to this yard sale from all over the world and a lot of them come back every year.  It is really neat to see your repeat customers and keep meeting new folks," said Burnett.

While Burnett contends the yard sale markets itself and does not require commercials, he admits this year he may have stumbled upon a golden opportunity to help his spot along U.S. 127 get over a 690-mile hump of competition.

"I think the camel will be here at least for a very good while.  I mean, we had a woman stop here from Buffalo, New York, who said, 'Thank God, I found it!'  I said, 'You have found what?'  She said, 'The camel!  I saw someone posted a picture of it on Facebook.'  With that much recognition, it could very well be that the new nickname for the place is Camelot."

The sale is headquartered at the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce.  You can find more information on the event at the chamber's www.127sale.com website.

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