Here’s a bit of good news. Clinch Valley’s 20th annual 12 Mile Yard Sale is on for Oct. 5.

Here’s a bit of bad news. It’s going to take a little longer to get there.

February mudslides took out sections of Routes 66-N and 70-N, the only two direct routes from Rogersville and Highway 11-W to Clinch Valley Road on the north side of Clinch Mountain.

TDOT is working on both roads, but neither is expected to be open earlier than late October.

Channeling my inner pioneer

I don’t see this as a challenge. I see this as an opportunity.

This year I’ll be channeling my inner pioneer and blazing a new trail to the 12 Mile Yard Sale, through Mooresburg via Highway 11-W and up Route 31 into Hancock County to access Clinch Valley Road at the far western end of the sale’s route.

The extra travel time isn’t a problem.

Half the fun of attending the 12 Mile Yard Sale is getting to the 12 Mile Yard Sale — enjoying fall foliage, mountain views, and hopefully some cool October air.

After all these years, I haven’t bought a single thing at the sale, although my old friend Lee Hoellman once gave me a little doll for my dog Maggie to play with.

For me the 12 Mile Yard Sale is all about the journey. Bumping into friends and chatting. People watching. Enjoying the sunshine and pretty scenery. Looking at junk. 

And there’s always the remote possibility that one day I’ll come across an item I’ve been needing my entire life and didn’t even know it until that very moment.

The Native American Gathering

Here’s more good news. The fourth annual Native American Gathering is still on that same day — Saturday, Oct. 5 — just south of Rogersville at the Amis Mill Historic Site.

Here’s more bad news. The Amis Mill Eatery, which has been one of my favorite places to eat since it opened in 2012, will probably still be closed at that time.

Owners Jake and Wendy Jacobs had leased the restaurant to a longtime employee so they could take a break and enjoy some time with their new granddaughter. Unfortunately, the new management walked out unexpectedly, leaving the Jacobses with a bunch of unpaid invoices and no one to operate the eatery.

They’re looking to lease the eatery again, but even with the eatery closed they’re making the property available for the fourth Native American Gathering. I plan on doing an article with more details about that event sometime next week.

Continuing our Hawkins County tradition

Meanwhile, I’m just grateful to continue a Hawkins County tradition that began when the Native American Gathering was established at Amis Mill in 2016. It starts at the 12 Mile Yard Sale.

For the past three years, Lynn, Maggie and I begin at the Route 70-N intersection on Clinch Valley Road and progress westward, stopping at every sale on the north side of the highway. When we get to the end 12 miles later, we turn around and visit every sale on the south side of the road until we’re back at Route 70-N.

Then we head north to Kyles Ford for a cheeseburger at River Place on the Clinch.

With the road closures this year, we’ll just reverse our itinerary.

After traveling east from Route 31 to Route 70-N, stopping at all the sales on the south side of the road, we’ll go up to get our cheeseburgers in Kyles Ford and then work our way back west to Route 31, stopping at all the sales on the north side of the road.

Having completed the northern leg of our Hawkins County Adventure, we will travel south to Rogersville and the Amis Mill Historical Site and visit the Native American Gathering.

It’s fun to walk around the Gathering and look at the crafts, watch some dancing and storytelling, visit with Stonewolf and his family, who organize the event, and maybe even eat again at the eatery.

Of course we won’t be eating again at Amis Mill this year. Might need to bring an extra cheeseburger from River Place on the Clinch.

Will there be any vendors?

The big question now is, in light of the mudslide road closures, will there be any vendors at the 12 Mile Yard Sale?

According to Hoellman, who helped found the 12 Mile Yard Sale 20 years ago, the regular locals will be out selling as usual.

A local committee that organizes the sale had considered canceling this year due to the road closures. When word got out that the 12 Mile Yard Sale might be off this year, there was a public outcry from within the Clinch community to keep it going.

She told me, “The committee felt no one would want to go all the way down to Route 31, and if they did, they would only shop on that (eastern) end. That was what several of my people said.”

It was co-organizer Karen Berg, who hosts one of the biggest sale locations, who convinced the committee that the show must go on.

“Karen said, ‘Oh, but I’ve been stockpiling,’ ” Hoellman told me Wednesday. “So she said, ‘Let me go ahead on Facebook and ask the people what they think.’ Several people said (on Facebook), yes they would shop it. And some people said yes, they will sell. So we decided to go for it.”

A first-time shopper

Hoellman has a big barn full of junk that she sells every year just east of the Route 66-N intersection. Despite having helped found the event and having participated as a seller for the past 19 years. Hoellman has never gone out shopping.

That’s going to change this year, however. Hoellman said she is placing her husband, John, in a big easy chair in the shade near the barn door, and he will be in charge of the barn sale. She doesn’t care if he sells $5 items for a quarter, as long as he empties out the barn.

Meanwhile, she will shop the 12 Mile Yard Sale for the first time.

Let’s hope she finds a lot of good bargains so there will be something to put in the barn next year.

You can learn more about the event at the 12 Mile Yard Sale Facebook page, which is managed by Berg. She’s got a map of the sale on the Facebook page, and anyone who wants to come sell can contact her via Facebook messenger for advice on a location.  

Jeff Bobo covers Hawkins County for the Times News. Email him at