Appling Co. Living 2015 - Page 24

Back home in Hazlehurst, Evelyn contacted the Director of Tourism for the State of Georgia to get them involved. She had to first get the Commissioners on board and sell it to them to get each county involved. Evelyn started this journey in 2001 and in 2005, “Peaches to the Beaches” was implemented. Evelyn said, “I felt we had an idea to draw from other communities to start a yard sale event”. She commented that she had received valuable information that took three years to get the idea on board to each community to participate. It took people pulling their own weight and creating excitement. In the early years of “Peaches to the Beaches”, Evelyn did not realize the economic impact the event was making in the community. She later was told there was a building sold on Highway 341 because of “Peaches to the Beaches”. In addition, communities profit from increased tourism revenue such as hotel/motel tax collection, food and entertainment sales and fuel sales. Thousands of people travel Highway 341 during this event and the communities reap the economic benefit through increased revenue generated by tourism. Baxley’s motels, convenience stores, restaurants and gas stations are filled with people the weekend of “Peaches to the Beaches”. There are traffic jams all up and down highway 341, because there are so many people shopping at the official sites such as the Appling County City Gym, Appling County Court House, and at the Baxley City Hall. BaxleyAppling County Board of Tourism’s “Peaches to the Beaches” locations had over 150 vending sites sold in 2014. Last year there were just over 100 sites sold and the year before around 90 plus. Robert Wiggins, owner of Doc’s Grill and Hardees in Baxley said, “I have a 40% increase in sales over normal on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Doc’s Grill and my Hardees’ store in Hazlehurst had 100% increase in sales because it is in the middle of the Hazlehurst ‘Peaches to the Beaches’ location site”. John Pearson, owner of B&F Restaurant, said “Most business’s say Mother’s Day is their biggest weekend but my biggest weekend is ‘Peaches to the Beaches’”. Mr. Pearson also said his restaurant had about a 30% increase in sales and that’s big in the restaurant business”. 22 Appling County Living “‘Peaches to the Beaches’ yard sale has made a magnificent economic impact to Baxley and Appling County; as it has fr om Barnsville, GA to Brunswick and the Golden Isles. In 2013, the department of transportation placed a traffic counter in Baxley and the event attracted 14,000 plus visitors. The visitors came from as far as New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, and from all over Georgia searching for hidden treasures along the Golden Isles Parkway.” Paula Tanner