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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

Return to Mayberry

Well, Barn, do you wish you could return to those slow-moving summer days fishing at the creek with a bottle of pop and a baloney sandwich? Do I hear whistling as you make your way to the water’s edge, fishing pole over your shoulder?

From left: Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts), Opie Taylor (Ron Howard), Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), and Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier)

You don’t have to relegate your desire for an easier time in the old South to just watching “The Andy Griffith Show,” you can actually live them at the annual Mayberry Days Sept. 21-26, 2021, in Mount Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith’s hometown.

The town, which served as inspiration for Mayberry on “The Andy Griffith Show,” embraces that role with a variety of events, including autograph sessions with actors from the show, trivia contests, a celebrity dinner at the local country club, live music, and tours of the Andy Griffith Museum and Andy Griffith Playhouse.

There are also competitions inspired by specific episodes of the show, including apple peeling, pickle tossing, and pie eating. Karen Knotts performs “Tied Up in Knotts,” a tribute to her late father, Don Knotts, who played the role of Deputy Barney Fife, while Ronnie Schell, who appeared on both “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Gomer Pyle, USMC,” will share his memories of Griffith, Knotts, and Jim Nabors.

Other activities include the Mayberry Days Parade, Colonel Tim’s Talent Time variety show, and the annual meeting of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club.

Actors scheduled to appear at this year's festival include:

Betty Lynn, who played Barney Fife’s girlfriend Thelma Lou and now lives in Mount Airy;

Clint Howard, who played Leon;

Calvin Peeler, who played Martin;

Rodney Dillard, one of the Darling Boys;

Margaret Kerry, known as Bess Muggins and Helen Scoby;

Dennis Rush, who personified Howie Pruitt;

and Joy Ellison, who played five different characters as a young girl.

If you can’t make it for Mayberry Days, be sure and come back to visit The Andy Griffith Museum, featuring the hundreds of items from the life and career of Andy Griffith collected by Emmett Forrest.

Allan Newsome (Floyd the Barber) during the 2019 Mayberry Days Parade. Photo by Hobart Jones.

A fun way to tour the town Barney style is to take a Squad Car Tour in a genuine 1960s-era police car driven by natives who know both the town and its famous TV star. Visitors will leave from Wally's Service Station on Main Street and pass by Mt. Airy landmarks such as Barney's Cafe, Floyd's Barber Shop and Andy's birthplace, among other landmarks. And don't miss an opportunity to sample sonkers, a cobbler-type dessert that's unique to this area of North Carolina. Read about the Surry Sonker Trail and the places to enjoy this special dish here.

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by Cheré Coen, a food and travel writer who grew up with "The Andy Griffith Show" (okay, maybe the reruns) and who loved sampling sonkers.

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