The first ever Mayberry in the Midwest was a stellar success as New Castle and Henry County, Indiana, played host to George Lindsey “Goober,” Betty Lynn “Thelma Lou,” James Best “Jim Lindsey” (TAGS) and “Rosco P. Coltrane” (Dukes of Hazard), Maggie Peterson
Mancuso “Charlene Darling,” The Dillards “The Darlings” and Howard Morris “Ernest T. Bass.” Unfortunately, Jean Carson (Fun Girl “Daphne”) was unable to attend due to illness.
Friday, July 19th, enthusiastic fans did not let a driving thunderstorm earlier in the afternoon deter them as they were treated to a delicious bar-b-q dinner with the stars at The Henry County Arts Park. In addition to a program of auction items, arriving guests were given American flags (courtesy of the local Republican party) handed out by “Wally”, the Mayberry mechanic, dressed in his antique Texaco uniform.
Before local band “Lindsey Ridener and Big Sky” took the stage, the Mayberry squad cars rolled in carrying their VIP guests. After a bar-b-q dinner, guests participated in a Q & A session with the cast, and later the charity auction was held.
Saturday featured a morning autograph session with the cast, an Antique Car Show in the afternoon, and a cast reunion show performed by the TAGS stars that evening.
“My favorite part was The Dillards,” says Jim Hady of Flag Pond, TN. “I was a little disappointed that Mitch didn’t play bass for “The Darling Boys,” but he has had hearing problems for years, and it has gotten to where he can’t hear to perform. So, they did the next best thing…got a Bass Player from Arkansas, and Mitch came out and gave a long talk about Briscoe Darling, and all the movies he was in.”
Like Jim Hady, I also loved seeing the Dillards because it was the only time I have seen the entire group together on stage. They performed a nice, long set including the gospel song, “Somebody Touched Me.” Mitch even came out to ham it up for one song, and it was very special seeing them all together in “Darling Boy” attire. “Charlene,” who earlier had performed a couple of songs for the audience, even did a little song and jig with them on “Salty Dog!”
It is always a pleasure to see Betty Lynn. I have never seen or heard of her being anything but gracious and delightful with her fans. She was lovely as always, chatting with fans at the hotel and she carried her song off with aplomb during her segment.
Janet Anderson of Farmersburg, Indiana, agrees. “I was certainly not disappointed with Betty Lynn,” states Janet. “Everything I’ve heard about her is true. She was so kind and seemed very genuine in her appreciation for her fans. I would have to agree with another lady I met while standing in line. She attended the Friday evening event and got to sit down and have a conversation with Betty Lynn and described her as probably the most gracious person she had ever met.” Delightful Maggie Mancuso ranks right up there with Betty Lynn in terms of talent and graciousness.
James Best, who played guitar player Jim Lindsey twice on the show, was wonderful! Whether on stage or in his autograph line, he was truly a funny guy, and he took a strong liking to my dog who traveled with me. It turns out he really is a dog lover, much like ole Rosco P. Coltrain!
The funniest moment in Saturday night’s performance for me was a “duel” between David Browning/Barney and James Best/Rosco during the show. “Barney” was baiting James Best and exercising his “authority” as a “law man” when suddenly James ripped off his shirt to reveal his “Rosco” identity, complete with shirt with badges and insignia. He grabbed up his “Rosco” hat, and announced he outranked a lowly deputy. Then they “dueled” by making the other say (and mangle) the other’s most famous lines, such as “whip it, whip it in the mud.” Of course they could neither handle the other’s
signature lines and watching them both twitch, shimmy and mangle each other’s lines was truly a delight.
Another highlight of the weekend for me was going to the hotel restaurant after hours and chatting with George Lindsey on two consecutive nights. He was very personable with his fans and made himself accessible to his Mayberry friends every night.
Even Howard Morris “Ernest T. Bass” was on his best behavior and was cordial… most of the time… to his fans.
The cast did a wonderful job, TAGSRWC, Curt Bell and the event organizers outdid themselves, and there is a happy rumor floating around that this event might be repeated annually! Let’s hope Mayberry comes to the Midwest again.
For more photos of the event go to Mayberry in the Midwest Photo Gallery (Photo gallery and links lost due to previous web designers.)
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