It’s time to get ready for Mayberry Days! To get us all in the mood, I thought I would share my review of the 2005 Mayberry Days festival!
Mayberry Days 2005 teed off with the biggest Golf Tournament to date on Thursday and ended with a prayer service and brunch on Sunday.
Although overall festival attendance was down from last year (the year Andy Griffith attended), the crowds were noteworthy and the fans were more than satisfied. This year’s event featured Elinor Donahue, Betty Lynn, James Best, Maggie Peterson, George Spence, LeRoy McNees, the Dillards, the VW Boys, and other talented entertainers as well as the ubiquitous tribute artists. Howard Morris (Ernest T. Bass) who passed away this year, was honored throughout the long weekend.
My own Mayberry Days experience began on Wednesday with the annual pilgrimage to the Snappy Lunch. We like to arrive a day before the crowds to miss the long lines for those craving the world-famous pork chop sandwich. That worked to our advantage as my brother got a personal tour of the Snappy Lunch kitchen compliments of Charles Dowell, while I got to spend some time next door having my photo made and visiting with Russell Hiatt, owner of Floyd’s Barbershop. Both gentlemen are Mt. Airy natives, and both knew Andy Griffith when he was growing up. It is always a pleasure to hob nob with these gracious, long-time residents of Mt. Airy.
Although we missed the golf tournament, “It was well worth the $30 ticket,” according to Dennis Beal, winner of this year’s “Mayberry Friendship” award for dedication to the show and the club. “Unlike Nashville last year, there was plenty of good food and wonderful entertainment. The autograph session was very nice because there were no long lines and you could stand and chat with the stars.”
This year’s winner of the Jim Schwenke Memorial Award, Gary Wedemeyer added that after the stars were introduced and said a few words, “David Morris, Howard’s son, came on stage. He told a joke about his dad still being short and a balloon that had floated up to the ceiling burst at that exact moment with a loud “BANG”. The room fell silent. Davis Morris said, ‘Yeah, Dad follows me everywhere I go.'”
While everyone else was at the golf tournament, my brother and I had a delicious dinner at Goober’s and afterwards walked around the Mayberry Mall on Hwy 52.
Friday morning brought the Mayor’s Proclamation to the new amphitheater where Elinor Donahue and David Morris received the keys to the city.
Much of the day found us at Wally’s Service. My brother is the Wally tribute artist, so it is only fitting he spend time hanging out at the antique gas station. We also visited the brand-new Mayberry Courthouse next door. What a treat it was! Where there was once an old brick Texaco garage and Studebaker dealer right next to Wally’s Service, the building had been fixed up to look like the Mayberry Courthouse. Two fully furnished cells (minus Otis), Andy’s desk complete with candlestick phone, antique typewriter, gun rack, etc. make the Courthouse a must-see on your next trip to Mt. Airy. Tell them Wally sent you!
One of Friday’s fun events was the trivia contest at the new amphitheater where Dennis Beal of Knoxville, Tennessee, captured first prize. Dennis didn’t just win the Trivia Awards; earlier that day he also won the first Chester Jones Checker Tournament at the playhouse – a tournament he organized. While Dennis was busy crowning himself, I stopped by Mrs. Wiley’s Tea Party where Maggie Peterson was the guest of honor and even sang a few numbers.
After the trivia contest, many people made their way to the Dillards concert. The concert started with an orchestra from a college in West Virgina playing songs from the show.
“It was just like seeing the Mayberry Marching band, only they didn’t march and sounded a lot better,” Gary Wedemeyer said.
The main act was Doug and Rodney Dillard who played two of the Darling boys on “The Andy Griffith Show.” During their set, Barney Fife tribute artist David Browning came out and wanted to sing a song to Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou), “Hello, Thelma Lou,” a parody of “Hello, Mary Lou.”
“What a great moment!” Gary enthused. “David sang to Betty Lynn and better yet, his backup band was the Dillards. When we thought it couldn’t get any better, they brought the orchestra back out and did “Doug’s Tune” and Maggie came out and sang ‘There is a Time.’ David Morris came out and sang ‘Old Aunt Maria’ to Maggie in memory of his Dad. Then Roni Stoneman from ‘Hee Haw’ came out and did ‘Dueling Banjos’ with Doug.”
As if one concert wasn’t enough, after the Dillards concert the VW Boys performed their own blend of music, magic and mayhem at the downtown Cinema.
Saturday morning is always one of the highlights of Mayberry Days as the big parade hits Main Street. This year found all the attending cast members riding and waving while the tribute artists walked along, mingling with the crowd, and providing many humorous touches. After the parade, the cast was carried to the Andy Griffith Playhouse where they posed for photos and signed autographs. I did go by for a couple of photos (as well as Elinor Donahue’s autograph) but I opted out of the crowds to spend some quiet time in a rocking chair at Wally’s drinking an Orange Nehi. I almost expected Gomer or Goober to come around for a Nectarine Crush at any moment!
Col. Tim’s Talent Time took place in the playhouse auditorium on Saturday night. “The stars didn’t perform for very long, nor did they stay to the end, but overall I thought the show was OK,” Dennis stated.
Jim Clark, David Browning, George Spence, LeRoy McNees, Jewell Kutzer and others joined Mayberry fans at the Golden Coral for Brunch before heading back to their respective homes. “Overall it was among the best Mayberry Days I’ve been to (and this makes #14 for me!” claimed Dennis.
Other things we enjoyed at Mayberry Days this year: Mayberry postmarks at the Mt. Airy post office, lunch at the Brown Derby, the James Best art show, dinner at Barneys, seeing Betty Lynn for a few minutes at the Hampton Inn, a pork chop dinner at the Sagebrush, Mt. Airy’s antique Coca Cola sign and seeing all the Mayberry fans!
Mayberry Days is sponsored in part by Weavers Department Store
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From our archives 9/29/5
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