Peaches to the Beaches offers opportunity to explore communities

Sun News correspondentMarch 12, 2014 

It might not be quite peach season and it’s still a little cold for the beach, but none of that matters on the second weekend of March.

It is time for the annual Peaches to the Beaches, and Georgia’s longest yard sale is celebrating its 10th anniversary. It all takes place along U.S. 341 on Friday and Saturday.

About 200 miles long, Peaches to the Beaches links the peach growing counties in Middle Georgia to the beaches of the Golden Isles. Along the way, travelers will find everything from yard sale treasures to fine antiques. “Official vendor” signs will identify Peaches to the Beaches sites in each community.

Araina Reaves, director of tourism for the Eastman-Dodge County Chamber of Commerce, is also a member of the Golden Isles Parkway Association that hosts the event.

“It starts in Barnesville and continues to the Jesup area,” said Reaves. “Here in Dodge County, we have three official sites.”

One of those is the little town of Chauncey that on Peaches to the Beaches weekend pulls out all the stops.

“The City Council gets into it big time in Chauncey and tries to make it fun for both the people traveling through and for their whole community,” Reaves said.

Some organizations like the Chauncey Fire Department, which sells hamburgers and hot dogs, use Peaches to the Beaches to raise money.

“We have a group in Chauncey raising money for the Relay for Life. Employees of the post office are raising money for a sick co-worker. Lots of people in our community want to attend and want to help those groups raising funds,” said Reaves.

Also at the Chauncey stop will be a book sale to benefit the historic Chauncey school.

Peaches to the Beaches is great for the local economy and brings exposure to the area, but Reaves said it does something else for the small towns along the route.

“People come, (and) they realize what restaurants and tourism we have, but they also realize the kind hearts of the people that live along this route,” Reaves said. “This event has grown and grown, and that wouldn’t happen if the people traveling didn’t enjoy not only the yard sale finds but the people in each of these communities.

“They see booths like the post office one, and they realize that the people that live here are genuine -- the kind of people that try to help their neighbor.

Reaves encouraged those traveling the Peaches to the Beaches route to look for the official yard sale signs and to stop at those.

Official sites, along with maps of the area, are listed on the Peaches to the Beaches website, www.peachestothebeaches.com.

Vendors at official sites are charged a small fee that goes to the Golden Isles Parkway Association, a nonprofit that promotes tourism year round on U.S. 341.

Golden Isles Parkway Association President Kim Brown, who is also the Hawkinsville-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce executive director, said Peaches to the Beaches is a great springtime kick off and encouraged visitors to stop at official sites.

“Not only can you get your stamp, but each official site will have an information booth to promote what is available in the communities, such as home cooking restaurants and quaint downtown areas,” said Brown.

“We really get the chance to showcase our community.”

The stamp Brown referred to was for the shopping passport, which is available at any official site or to print from the website. Participants can get their passport stamped at the official sites -- different numbers of stamps qualifies shoppers for different prizes and giveaways.

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