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City gearing up for Mayberry Days

Mount Airy is gearing up for the 34th Annual Mayberry Days festival on Sept. 18-24, when fans of “The Andy Griffith Show” can mingle with actors who appeared on the series and enjoy the simpler times it celebrates.

“Every year we try to make it better for the fans,” said Executive Director Tanya Jones of the Surry Arts Council. It spearheads the yearly gathering in Griffith’s hometown located appropriately in the North Carolina foothills, which provided the setting for the 1960s-era show still widely viewed in reruns.

“That happened in Year One and every year it changes,” Jones added Wednesday regarding the offering of traditional Mayberry Days attractions and efforts to enhance the festival as time passes.

This will include a popular Mayberry Days parade on Saturday morning, Sept. 23, and live bluegrass, country and beach music, according to a breakdown from Surry County tourism representative Craig Distl. Activities, contests and concerts are to occur daily.

Some of those activities will incorporate story lines and references from “Andy Griffith Show” episodes, according to information from Distl. These include eating pork chop sandwiches at Snappy Lunch and tossing rings at pickle jars, aka Aunt Bee’s “kerosene” cucumbers.

A highlight of Mayberry Days each year is the appearance by actors who shared screen time with Andy and Barney.

Those returning to Mount Airy for the 2023 festival include Keith Thibodeaux (who played Johnny Paul Jason, a friend of Opie’s), Rodney Dillard (one of the Darling boys), Ronnie Schell (Bernie the furrier and Duke Slater in “Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C.”), Dennis Rush (Howie Pruitt) and Margaret Kerry (Helen Scobey).

Dan Roebuck, who portrayed Cliff Lewis for the final three seasons of “Matlock,” another show starring Griffith, also will make appearances in Mount Airy during Mayberry Days.

Additional guests with connections to “The Andy Griffith Show” are to include Karen Knotts, daughter of Don Knotts, whom Jones said will offer a revamped version of an annual show; Dick Atkins, producer of “Murder in Coweta County,” which starred Griffith; Dreama Denver, wife of the late Bob Denver, who played Dud Wash, an associate of the Darling clan; and family members of “Andy Griffith Show” writer Harvey Bullock.

Jones said Wednesday she is especially excited about the upcoming visit by Bullock’s two children and a grandson from California.

Not only was Bullock a key creative force for the series, including writing 31 of its episodes. He later played a key role in having the Opie and Andy statue located on the grounds of the Andy Griffith Playhouse and was an all-around supporter of Mayberry Days.

“And a lot of people don’t know that,” Jones observed.

“Harvey is one of my all-time-favorite Mayberry Days guests,” Jones said of Bullock, who came to the festival before his death in 2006.

This will be the first time for Bullock’s family members to attend Mayberry Days.

Jones also pointed out that David and the Giants, a band featuring Keith Thibodeaux on drums, will perform on Sept. 23 at 3 p.m. in the Andy Griffith Playhouse.

The Surry Arts Council official further mentioned that the organization’s new Arts Center, which has opened on Rockford Street since Mayberry Days 2022, will provide a fresh venue for autograph sessions by visiting celebrities.

In addition, games held during the festival will offer new twists, according to Jones.

A full schedule of events can be accessed at www.MayberryDays.com. Some events require tickets, which can be bought on the website. Additional event information and tickets are also available at 336-786-7998.

“Mayberry fans love coming to Mount Airy to learn more about ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and Andy Griffith,” Jones stated.

“They truly enjoy all things Mayberry, especially interacting with the actors and others who knew them.”

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Source: https://www.mtairynews.com

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