IN 2021, Bell Buckle was named the South’s best small town by Southern Living magazine; what an honor for this quaint town in Bedford County, Tennessee to receive! According to Southern Living’s media kit from 2021, the magazine has a print reach of well over 16 million. Suppose you have been living under a rock and are unfamiliar with Southern Living. In that case, it is a lifestyle magazine aimed at readers in the Southern United States. The magazine published its first issue in 1966. Within 10 years it became one of the most profitable magazines in the country (“The Most Profitable Magazine in the U.S.”, June 15, 1977, Forbes). The magazine focuses on all things Southern including food, travel, home, garden, culture, beauty, and news. The Southern Living mission statement is, “To bring enjoyment, fulfillment, and inspiration to our readers by celebrating the best of the Southern lifestyle.”
So what is it about Bell Buckle that deems it worthy for a “best” superlative from Southern Living magazine? Former Mayor and Chamber Treasurer Jenny Hunt says this, “Bell Buckle is special for both tangible and intangible reasons. It is a place where time stands still, and it invokes really good warm memories for people of all ages. I think Bell Buckle speaks to people for the more simple times type of a feeling. You feel the friendliness and camaraderie here. Here, it is just the way things ought to be, and I think that resonates with people.”
In addition to that warm fuzzy feeling Bell Buckle provides, it also offers a host of things to do! The town has an event for what seems like every week of the year! Townspeople have a day of celebration for everything you can imagine; they even host a Daffodil Day celebrating spring and those tiny yellow flowers.
If Bell Buckle were encapsulated into a type of person, it would be that friend found in every friend group that is essentially the unofficial organizer of everyone’s social calendar. You know the one! You can find her constantly planning, whether it’s a get-together of her own or something else. She continually discovers new and random events that no one has ever heard of and makes the preparations for your entire group. Then, luckily enough, the event she drags you to is actually a blast. Craft fairs, farmer’s markets, 5K races, and barbecue cookoffs are just a few of the most popular events Bell Buckle has each year. Tourists come from all over, ready to celebrate anything and everything in this eclectic town with all of its unique and one-of-a-kind shops and businesses. -GN