The Alabama Tourism Department describes Mentone as “a mountain resort town with Southern manners and a unique artisitc flair.”
Cynthia Stinson, owner of the Mentone Inn, has also found the community to be a haven for artists and those who are keenly environmentally aware.
A popular Mentone attraction is The Wildflower Cafe and Country Store, which has organic, gluten-free and vegan menu offerings. Co-owner L.C. Moon has her own herbal line.
The Mentone Inn also hosts a farmers market each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A number of eclectic antique stores, art galleries and boutiques are within walking distance.
“People come here all the time on a festival weekend and park their cars on Friday and don’t drive again until Sunday,” Stinson said.
The town’s population of less than 500 grows exponentially each year in May for the Rhododendron Festival and again in October for Colorfest.
Several years ago, the Mentone Area Arts Council organized a juried arts and crafts show that is now a summer tradition.
The 2014 JulyFest Art and Music Festival is scheduled for Saturday, July 19, and Sunday, July 20, in Mason Park at the center of Mentone.
The event will feature the work of more than 50 artists and craftspeople and live music as well as a silent auction and a pet parade to benefit the Humane Society and Animal Resources of DeKalb County.
Stinson, the festival chair, expects thousands to turnout to celebrate an area of Alabama that rarely gets as much attention as its Tennesse equivalent.
“You’re in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains here. So many people associate Lookout Mountain with Chattanooga, but there’s only about five miles there. Alabama has 65 miles of it,” Stinson said.
Lookout Mountain as seen from the air is said to look like a dragon, and Mentone is located in the heart.
Little River Canyon, reportedly the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi River, is a 15-minute drive.
Alabama’s only ski resort (The Cloudmont Ski Resort) and dude ranch (Shady Grove Dude Ranch) are also located near Mentone.
Mentone is located on prime real estate for the World’s Longest Yard Sale, which stretches from Gadsden to Addison, Michigan during the month of August.
Some of Stinson’s guests are in the market for more than knickknacks when they come to Mentone. She estimates that at least one out of 10 couples who stay at the Inn decide to purchase property after spending time in the area.
“There are two people who live here who typically don’t live other places. We call them ‘peace’ and ‘quiet,’” she said.