EASTMAN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - The annual "Peaches to the Beaches" is a popular event in Georgia that attracts thousands of people from across the area. But it is facing an issue that, over time, could shut it down and impact thousands of vendors from Barnesville to Brunswick.
One weekend every March, US Highway 341 turns into Georgia's largest yard sale.
"It's a 200 plus mile event of treasure trove hunting," Paula Rogers, president of the Golden Isles Parkway Association, said.
"Peaches to the Beaches" draws in thousands of people and vendors from across the state and country. This is the ninth year of the event and the Golden Isles Parkway Association sponsors it every year. Rogers says it pumps a lot of money into the local economy.
"They [the shoppers] stop and they stay in your hotels, your restaurants, they buy gas in your communities along the way and that is tax dollars being spent," Rogers said.
Each vendor pays a $30 registration fee that goes towards advertising. But over the last three years, people started setting up their own booths without paying and that has cut one-third of the advertising budget.
"With that decrease in funds, it puts the event at risk because if we don't have the money to get the word out and advertise, no one is going to know when the event is," Rebecca McWilliam, treasurer of the Golden Isles Parkway Association, said.
Stinson's Bar-B-Q in Lumber City says business booms during the two day event. Cook Glynn Stinson says if "Peaches to the Beaches" were to shut down, it would cut into the restaurants' bottom line.
"We'd loose that group of people that come...the large number of people and it all boils down to we lose money, so business would be off," Stinson said.
In Eastman at the Southside Market, business really picks up during that weekend.
"It brings in lots of traffic and it makes all our vendors very happy when there's lots of traffic here," co-owner Rae Spradley said. "It's a huge weekend and we love it."
But in order to keep that traffic and money, event officials want you to sign up.
"We encourage anyone that wants to set up as a vendor during this event to contact the community that they want to set up in and become an official vendor," Rogers said.
This year's "Peaches to the Beaches" event will be March 8th and 9th. Click here to find out how you can become an official vendor and participate in this event.