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Beans, bargains at Lone Oak Aug. 4-7

Plenty of free parking, 80 vendors, rest rooms and food served in an air-conditioned dining room will be found at Lone Oak Community Center during the Highway 127 Sale, set for Thursday, Aug. 4-Sunday, Aug. 7 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (All times are EDT.)

“You can spend the whole day here between what’s going on inside and what’s going on outside,” said volunteer Sharon Dorough.

The center, which offers many valuable services to the Signal Mountain community, including GED classes, a free health and dental clinic, a free library, a quilting group for seniors and a volunteer fire department, considers the Highway 127 sale to be its primary fundraiser.

“The center is an important part of the community, and people know that without them coming here and buying lunch or setting up their vendor booth, we wouldn’t be able to keep it open,” said Tommye Byington, Lone Oak’s food service coordinator during the Highway 127 Sale.

Dorough said Lone Oak’s net profits from the 2010 sale were around $9,000. The utility bills and insurance costs to keep the center running average around $1,000 a month, and the monthly Big Country Breakfast fundraisers typically only raise a few hundred dollars, she said.

“In these economic times, [the Big Country Breakfast] has turned into more of a community get-together than a fundraiser,” said Byington. “We make more money at any of our breakfasts when [Lone Oak librarian] Bill [Helrigel] has an iris sale.”

Helrigel will have 33 varieties of iris bulbs for sale in the hallway near the library for $3 each during the hours of the Highway 127 Sale. He and other library volunteers will also be selling 1,500 used books priced between 25 cents and $2 in the library, with all proceeds going to buy new books.

Quilts and other crafts for sale created by the Lone Oak Senior Quilters will be on display in the quilting room, and all funds raised from the sale of these items will go back into the center.

Vendor spaces 10 feet wide by 20 feet deep for the “World’s Longest Yard Sale” are still available on the property at a cost of $60 for the weekend.

“[The price] is very reasonable,” said Bob Blough, Lone Oak’s vendor liaison. “Many people rent two side by side.”

He said vendors come from all over the country, and some have been setting up at the center for more than a decade. Shoppers will find a wide selection of items, “not the normal yard sale stuff,” including antique furniture, Coca-Cola memorabilia, collectible toys, jewelry and German beer steins, said Blough.

Ample free off-street parking is available, with plenty of room for cars pulling trailers or large tour buses.

Volunteers at the center will serve a breakfast of sausage, biscuits and gravy from 8 to 9:30 a.m., followed by lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“There’s enough variety here to eat something different all four days,” said Byington.

Diners pay for food items separately, and can choose from a smorgasbord of options including chef salads, chicken and potato salad plates, hot dogs or Lone Oak’s famous pinto beans, served with onions, a cornbread muffin and slaw or potato salad.

“We do beans like mama makes them — soaked all day and cooked all night with chunks of ham,” said Byington.

Last year volunteers provided 60 dessert varieties for diners to choose from, and around 40 different community members volunteered their time to cook, serve food and clean up the kitchen during the four days of the sale.

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