It is a girls’ day for us. No guys are invited or even considered. It is a Saturday in fall so football reigns and UT plays at 2:30 so the guys are fully entertained. We, on the other hand, have a lot to accomplish in a small amount of time. There are 3 barn sales scheduled on the same weekend in our little Sparta, TN. We have until 4:00, closing time, to achieve each of them. My sister, Tamara, my sister-in-law (more like a sister), Tricia, my sweet niece, Anna Kate, and I meet and head out with our game faces on – our shopping game faces.
Our first stop is Sweet Ila Mae’s barn sale. We pull into to the charmingly decorated entrance, excited because we are just getting started and the amount of cars we can see. Coco’s (my 16 year old) friends, Hunter and Malik, are helping with parking cars in a cow field. We go to our designated spot and hurry to join the excitement. At the entrance, we pay our $2 to some of the cutest girls in 10 counties. Okay, so one is Coco’s girlfriend, Laney, and the other is her sister, Sophie. I would have given them more than $2. Laney snaps our picture so I could show you how cute everything is. I snap Laney and Sophie’s picture so I could show you how cute she and her sister are. Then it’s on.
The barn looms ahead of us and is filled and overflowing with vendors selling their creations. In front of the barn is a stage with a talented musician belting out his own art. The sound is amazing and really sets the tone for the whole fun-filled afternoon. To our left are food vendors selling everything from fried green tomato sandwiches to craft beer brewed right here in Sparta, TN. Overwhelmed with all the options, we start to our right and move our way through the barn.
Tricia takes no time in making her first selection. It is a dress with quilting stitched on it from Tadpoles and Tiaras. With a set of leggings, it will be perfect.
We look at homemade seasonings, earrings (wish I had bought the butterfly ones), home décor, wood work, painted furniture, metal work, and then Tricia strikes again. She finds the cutest pillow with a patch velcroed to the front from Swap-a-Top Pillows. She buys it plus another Christmas patch she can change out with the Christmas season.
Tamara is side lined by an irresistible Tennessee raglan that you will see her wearing.
My favorite vendor was Eliza Dean. They have raglans of all different colors with the state of Tennessee in a patchwork quilt and also in flannel. And I love the sleeveless polka-dotted shirt with our lovely state on it. Yikes! So much to like here!
Our shopping completed, we head to the food vendors. Should we go for a hamburger or a fried green tomato sandwich?
We decide on chicken salad served in a canning jar with a croissant and some homemade strawberry lemonade. Kate and I strategize together and finally land a table.
Tamara and Tricia join us and we eat with live music and kids jumping on hay bales and friends stopping by here and there.
Did I say Eliza Dean was my favorite vendor? Well, not exactly. Southern Chick Bake Shop ended up with the prize in my book. First of all, Terri Brock, the owner, is a Sparta girl and secondly, she makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole wide world. Her cookies are…well…unbeatable. I buy a stack of milk chocolate chip + white chocolate chip + oatmeal cookies and consider myself done for the day.
We walk through the cow pasture to our car and move on to Rock Island, just a hop, skip, and a jump up the road.
They are having a craft fair so we mosey through their vendors. Our surroundings are gorgeous and the band is impressive.
There are a ton of yard decorations for sale and a lady there selling books that have letters and the batman signal cut through them. So clever. We see more wooden signs and face painting and necklaces that have been crocheted.
It is more of a traditional craft fair and we enjoy our time and head back to Sparta.
Tricia has to take Bray, her son, to baseball practice and Tamara wants to get back for the UT game so we drop them off and Kate and I continue our journey, eating Southern Chick cookies on the way and talking about “Monster Cookies”, another secret treat of Terri Brock’s that Kate is privy to.
The last barn sale is down the Smithville Highway just off the Old Kentucky Crossroads – Becca Anne’s Barn Sale. This one has my heart because the profits go to Central View Elementary School, a little country school in our county. I say “country” because it is located in the southwestern part of our county, not because it is lacking in educational advantages. The school has just had a brand new addition to their facility plus they have some of the most professional, most talented, most caring teachers you will find. The teachers are the backbone of a school, if you ask me. At any rate, I am eager to support them.
Once again, we park in a cow field and make our way to the entrance. And once again, the barn is filled and overflowing with vendors. I tell Kate I will buy her one thing so we go in with a light heart and adventurous spirit. We make a stop at Poppies, a cute little RV parked outside the barn filled with the most delightful clothes ever.
Kate picks out some lacy boot jewelry and we try on several styles before we decide on our favorite. They are darling but she decides to browse through the other vendors before she makes her final decision.
This leads us to the Creative Chix booth, owned by Sparta ladies, where I find a button bracelet for $10. Then she custom makes a Sparta maroon and gray chevron button on the spot for me! The button was $5.
I am thrilled and make the purchase but also realize that I am out of cash. It goes so fast, you know? In the meantime, Kate is browsing and finds an animal print band that has room for 3 buttons. She mentions putting her dogs’ pictures on the buttons and wearing them on the animal print bracelet. Why not? We keep the idea in mind and continue our search.
Another reason I am a fan of Becca Anne’s Barn Sale is that they support young local artisans. We head straight to Jordan Glass and her painted pallets.
Jordan is a Sophomore at the high school and is a talented artist and business woman. I graduated high school with her dad, now the official delivery boy for Jordan’s beautiful pallets and also a policeman on the side. Ha! She has Tennessee pallets and scarecrow pallets, but my front-runner was her “Welcome” pallet with a yellow flower and bee buzzing around. Lovely. You can order from her facebook page, Perfect Pallets, but I’m not sure her delivery boy will go much farther than White County!
Next up is another Sparta, TN girl – Katy Hitchcock, owner of Vintage Charm, – who has an eye for jewelry-making and an entrepreneurial spirit.
She has gone to school with Cade, my 17 year old, since kindergarten and is in business classes with Coco at the high school. Oh. And I graduated with her mom as well. Kate and I oooh and aaah over her jewelry which is trendy and well-priced and oh-so-tempting. Kate tries on a bracelet with white lacy flowers and I select a long necklace with all sorts of charms. But I don’t have any money left! We assure Katy we will be back with my credit card which is in the car in the cow field.
Before we go for more moolah, we enter the barn where my neighbor, Leslie Cravens, is selling Matilda Jane clothing. Kate is actually wearing a Matilda Jane dress and has received compliments all day on it. Leslie’s selections are adorable and she reminds me of the open house she is having the following week.
This is just one of those rare times I wish I had little girls so I could dress them in these clothes! Instead, I am in this in-between time. I’m too old for a baby of my own and my kids are too young to have grandkids for me. (Please be good and wait!) Okay, so I will wait too. And, as Leslie reminds me, Matilda Jane has adult clothes – not near as cute, but then how cute can a 45-year-old be?
We linger at the “Love is” booth where I find a gray leather-ish wrap bracelet and Kate looks at a rabbit keychain.
She also has a wide leather bracelet with white lace around it and a metal tag that says, “You are going to want to give up. Don’t.” I want it but it is $39 and I can’t pull the trigger. I know I can also find her amazing jewelry at Luxe in Cookeville so that somehow makes me feel better about passing it up. We look at candles and soaps and furniture and then return to the cow pasture for my plastic money.
“So what have you decided?” I ask Kate as we reach the car.
“I want the animal print bracelet with my dog’s pictures on it and the bracelet with the white lacy flowers,” she says. “I can’t decide which one.”
She is conflicted but I have a plan. Since we will have to take a picture of her dogs and email them to Creative Chix before she can get them ready, I tell Kate I will get her that bracelet for her birthday (It’s coming up in two weeks!) and will get her the lacy flowery one to take home today. It was a great plan.
We return to Creative Chix. Kate grabs the animal print bracelet and I read hesitancy on her face so I ask her if she is sure. She tells me that her mother won’t like it. (If left to Kate, she would be our own little Zsa Zsa Gabor, dressed head to toe in animal print. But is that really all bad in the whole scheme of things?) I tell her that animal print rocks and it’s her birthday so let’s get the bracelet and I’m sure her mom will love it! So Kate picks out a “K” button and leaves two snaps empty for her dogs’ pictures and we move on.
It has only been about 30 minutes since we were at Katy Hitchcock’s Vintage Charms booth. Thirty minutes. And the bracelet is gone! Sold! My plan has been foiled! But Katy saves the day and assures us she will make the bracelet again and deliver it to Coco in their shared business class. So I buy the necklace I want and go ahead and pay for Kate’s bracelet to come. Kate is a good sport and is happy waiting unlike any children I have personally raised. I make up for it with promises of more chocolate chip + white chocolate chip + oatmeal cookies waiting for us in the car in the cow pasture.
I linger at Jordan’s painted flower and bee pallet again (So cute!) before we walk to the car.
Kate and I drive home eating Southern Chick cookies and talking about a Chihuahua movie she wants me to see. At home, we watch UT lose by one point and the guys…well…let’s say they “are upset,” to be vague. Kate and I decide there is no time like the present to watch a movie with talking dogs so we seize the moment while the rest of the family fumes about our football loss. This leads me to believe that animal print is indeed a good idea and movies with talking dogs are a great alternative, especially with a niece as special as mine.
Sparta, TN is home to lots of unique experiences just like this day of shopping…in rare places…like barns…in cow fields…on country roads. We would love to invite you along on one of these blessed days. You can even join us for a movie afterward, if you are into dogs (and nieces.) We would also love to build you a new home in Sparta if all of this sounds like home.
The movie was “Beverly Hills Chihuahua II” and can be found on Netflix.:)