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Get Into the Spirit of Mayberry

Attend the 25th annual Mayberry Days festival in Andy Griffith’s hometown later this month.

Paying tribute to Mount Airy’s role as inspiration for the idyllic hamlet of Mayberry on “The Andy Griffith Show,” the Mayberry Days festival is scheduled for September 25-28. More than 30,000 people now attend the event — a far cry from its humble beginnings in 1990.

“It was a one-day event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Andy Griffith Show,” says Tanya Jones with the Surry Arts Council, which created  the event on a sparse budget.. “We had an actor from the show and planned to do it one year. It ended with people calling back and saying: ‘We want more.’ They really got into it, and the rest is history.”

A special highlight this year will be Karen Knotts’ show “Tied Up in Knotts” at the Earle Theater. It’s a tribute to her late father, Don Knotts, who played the colorful deputy Barney Fife. Guest appearances from actors on the show and a bluegrass concert featuring Rodney Dillard, who played one of the “Darling Boys” on several episodes, round out the event.

Led by hometown sweetheart Betty Lynn, who played Barney Fife’s girlfriend Thelma Lou, the 14 actors scheduled to appear include Maggie Peterson (Charlene Darling), James Best (Jim Lindsey), Morgan Brittany (Opie’s girlfriend Mary Alice Carter), Jackie Joseph (Sweet Romena) and George Lindsey Jr. (son of George “Goober” Lindsey). Joy Ellison, a child actor who had multiple roles on the show, makes her first appearance at Mayberry Days this year.

Other activities include a golf tournament, Colonel Tim’s Talent Time, trivia contests, lectures about the show by professor Neal Brower and Saturday’s Mayberry Days Parade. Fans also enjoy interacting with tribute artists like Mayberry Deputy David Browning and attending the annual meeting of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club.

“For 25 years, we’ve seen an increase in enthusiasm,” says Jones. “The spirit of Mayberry is definitely enduring and timeless. We get calls every day from people who have never been to the festival. It’s a gathering of like-minded people who have strong family values and love a simpler time. And that’s what this represents.”

Mayberry Days is comprised of free and ticketed events spread over four days. For a complete schedule and details, call 336-786-7998, or go to www.mayberrydays.com. The Andy Griffith Museum in Mt. Airy is also open seven days a week, and admission is $3 a person.

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