2019 Mayberry Calendar Signing Announcement

I am excited to share some news about the upcoming Mayberry Days. I will be doing two signing sessions during the festival for the new 2019 Mayberry Day-by-Day calendar I have written and that will be released by Liberty Grove Press shortly.

For those who may not know, Mayberry Days is the annual festival held the last full weekend of September in Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. Traditionally, the festival kicked off with a golf tournament on Thursday followed by a banquet at the local country club. This was followed by multiple events on Friday and Saturday, including a parade Saturday morning, concerts, lectures, autograph sessions, trivia contests, and much more. But as the festival’s popularity has grown, there are actually some events starting as early as Monday. The festival is attended by tens of thousands of fans with the biggest crowd there on Saturday.

The first signing session will be to the limited crowd of the 300 people who attend the banquet Thursday evening. While I will be there to sign (and personalize, if desired) the calendars, they will be sold by the Surry Arts Council who organizes Mayberry Days every year. Only 300 people can attend the banquet, but for those who do attend, buying a calendar is a wonderful way to support a great organization who does so much to host the premier Mayberry event of the year.

Mayberry Days Thursday Banquet.

On Saturday morning, Liberty Grove Press will be represented in the parade. The parade will end with the Darling’s truck carrying a bluegrass band dressed as the Darling boys. Follow the truck down to Wally’s Service Station where the squad car tours I mentioned a couple of posts ago are based. I will be doing a calendar signing at Wally’s after the parade from 11:30 to 1:30. Wally’s has a full weekend of activities at their location at 625 S. Main Street. On Friday and Saturday, there will be bluegrass bands performing, a food truck selling burgers and hot dogs, and a vendor selling ice cream. And, of course, the signing of our new calendar on Saturday. The place will be hopping all weekend, so if you are going to be at Mayberry Days, come on down even if you can not make it while I am there on Saturday!

A much quieter Wally’s Service Station than it will be during Mayberry Days!

If you can’t make it to Mayberry Days this year, you owe it to yourself to attend someday, at least once. There are other Mayberry events that are worthy of attending, but Mayberry Days is a must.

Wally’s Service Station Mayberry Days Poster

Trips to Mount Airy, Part IV: Mayberry Days, 2015

The breakfast crowd at Snappy Lunch.

On Saturday morning of Mayberry Days 2015, my buddy Rob and I got up early to go out to breakfast. While Rob was finishing getting ready, I went downstairs to the Hampton Inn’s free breakfast to grab a cup of cranapple juice. While there, I saw a man with long gray hair flowing around the bald top of his head. He looked vaguely familiar though I did not pay close attention to him. After going back to the room, Rob and I then left but still didn’t totally beat the rush for breakfast at Snappy Lunch. After a short wait, we were seated. Breakfast was delicious and so cheap it was ridiculous so long as you are okay with eating from styrofoam plates. The restaurant is the favorite type for Rob. Any restaurant where the servers call him “Sugar” or “Hon” adds a few points in the plus column automatically.

Squad cars galore in the parade.


Clint Howard.

The parade was fun with a mix of celebrities in attendance, tribute artists, and other entertaining features. I nearly said “Duh!” aloud when I saw the guy in the parade whom I had seen earlier at breakfast. It was Clint Howard.

As soon as the parade was over, we hightailed it to the Andy Griffith Museum to stand in a long line to see Clint and another special guest, Barbara Eden. Just to be clear, the wonderful Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou), Maggie Peterson Mancuso (Charlene Darling), and Rodney Dillard (the guitar-playing Darling boy) were all there as well, but I had previously met all of them and gotten their autographs,

The celebrities in attendance generally charge $10 or so for an autographed 8 X 10 and are always happy to pose for a photo. So when people learned Barbara Eden was charging $40 or thereabouts, many were not thrilled. (I don’t recall exactly what she charged, but I do remember there were different prices depending on what she was signing. I think the fee also increased if you also wanted to take a photograph with her.) I certainly understand people’s negative reactions, though I personally felt no one was being forced to get an autograph. I do think the organizers made a mistake in not publicizing her variation from the normal fees at Mayberry Days, but that was not Barbara’s fault. I may come at it from a different position, as I know what many celebrities charge for an autograph and photo at comic conventions (comicons). Some charge in excess of $100, so I felt if people were willing to pay her $40, good for her. But I don’t think all of my fellow Mayberry fans shared my opinion.

As would be the same for many men my age, certainly a prominent thought was: I’m going to meet the star of I Dream of Jeannie! Barbara was at Mayberry Days because she did appear in a single, classic episode of The Andy Griffith Show, as the incredibly attractive temporary manicurist at Floyd’s Barber Shop. I had read her autobiography which mentioned that her current marriage had been held at a church in San Francisco modeled after Notre Dame in Paris. I had previously visited the church when my youngest daughter worked at the stunning Fairmont Hotel right across the street. And as luck would have it, Barbara’s wedding reception was held at the Fairmont, so I had a point of conversation at the ready.

Barbara was gracious, as all the celebrities I have ever met at Mayberry Days have been. She became quite interested when I shared that my daughter worked at the Fairmont. Barbara related how much she loved the hotel. The people with Barbara handling her merchandise were surprised, asking me, “She works at the Fairmont in San Francisco?” Presumably, they didn’t expect anyone at Mayberry Days to actually know about the Fairmont.

Barbara Eden.

There were only two problems I had with getting Barbara’s autograph. First, the picture I have posted was the best of three. In the other two, my excited expression even more clearly says, “Can you believe I am standing by Jeannie? I am standing beside Jeanie with my hand on her back!” that the pictures are more humorous than anything I want to share.

And the second issue? After all those years as a young man of watching her frolic around in her Jeannie costume, it was disturbing to fully realize…Barbara Eden is two years older than my mom.

Trips to Mount Airy, Part III: Mayberry Days, 2015

After such a delightful lunch at Hickie’s, we made good time and arrived in Mount Airy in time for something I had planned without informing my friend, Rob. We went straight to Wally’s and took a squad car tour.

The tours leave from a building that evokes Wally’s filling station from The Andy Griffith Show. Tours are given in reproductions of the Mayberry squad car. If you are ever in Mount Airy, treat yourself and take a tour. It was definitely worth every penny. Our driver was quite knowledgeable about both the town and its occasional reflection in the show. He quickly realized what a fan I was and did not hold back on sharing as much information as one could take in during the tour.

Wally’s is also home to a shop known for having good and fair prices on Mayberry products of which they stock a nice selection. They also stock a lot of old-time candy many of us would remember from our childhoods.

If all that were not enough, another building next door houses a reproduction of the Mayberry Courthouse, complete with the sheriff’s desk and jail cell. There is also a reproduction of the Darling cabin along with the Darling’s truck. It was a perfect way to introduce Rob to “Mayberry” on our first evening.

We arrived near the end of Wally’s operating hours. After the tour, we asked to see the owner who we learned was Mike Cockerham. We told him how much we had enjoyed the tour and what a great job the driver had done for us. As we started to leave, I thought it would be worthwhile to ask for a restaurant recommendation as Snappy Lunch was about the extent of where I had been in town. Mike recommended a ribs restaurant called 13 Bones. He started to give us directions and then said we could just follow him since he was going there anyway. We responded we would do him one better and treat him to dinner. And that’s how we found ourselves passengers with the owner of Wally’s squad car tours as he drove to 13 Bones and called to tell his wife he would be home later than usual because he had met two nice fellas from Cincinnati who were taking him out to dinner.


That night at the Fairmont Inn, we discovered there were more notable people than us staying there.



We spent Friday exploring and also saw several shows. One was Karen Knotts’ one-woman show “Tied Up in Knotts” about her life and her father, Don Knotts.

The stage just before “Tied Up in Knotts” began.

We also saw a moving tribute to James Best, Mayberry’s own guitar playing wizard Jim Lindsey, called “Remember Me with Laughter.” Jimmie had passed away earlier that year and the tribute was hosted by his widow, Dorothy Best, and the Mayberry Deputy, David Browning.

We closed the evening with a truly entertaining concert by the VW Boys. This bluegrass band’s show was as much a comedy show as a concert and even included a bit of humorous magic. Before the concert began, a number of tribute artists were patrolling the aisles. When Andelina (the grown-up daughter of Charlene and Dud, played to perfection by Christie McLendon) saw me, she paraphrased Charlene Darling’s line and said, “My! You’re big as a tree.” Rob took a photo of us and has enjoyed teasing me about it to this day.

We had already had a full trip but we had another full day ahead.

Hickie’s Old Fashioned Hamburger Inn Interlude

On the way to Mayberry Days in 2015, my buddy Rob and I stopped for burgers at a spot in New Boston, Ohio I had heard about called Hickie’s Old Fashioned Hamburger Inn. New Boston sits on the banks of the Ohio River and is just a few miles upriver from Portsmouth.

Hickie’s Hamburger (as it is more commonly called) is a New Boston institution. It is a classic, unpretentious, old-school diner. The name apparently comes from the last name of the original owners: Hickman. When we walked into the small dining room by the main entrance, it was crowded but we did spot an empty table nearby. I caught the eye of one of the servers right away and asked if we were supposed to seat ourselves. She said, “Yep!” In retrospect, I noticed a few people smile as we sat down but I chalked it up to locals reacting to a couple of out-of-towners.

In just a minute or two, the woman came over and said more than asked, “So y’all have never been here before?” We told her it was our first time and she then asked, “Where y’all from?” We told her near Cincinnati. She then looked away from us toward the rest of the patrons and loudly yelled, “Hey, everybody! We got us a couple o’ VIRGINS here from Cincinnati!” with quite the emphasis on the word “virgins.”

We soon realized this was a tradition at the diner. Before we left, we saw other unsuspecting customers get the same treatment. That alone would have made the trip memorable but she wasn’t done yet. But first, another server took our food orders.

Does this place have the best burgers you’ve ever eaten? No. Are they huge burgers? No, closer to sliders. Are they worth having? Absolutely. I splurged and had the “Big Yogi,” the most expensive burger on the menu. It was $3.50. I also had a regular cheeseburger for another dollar and a quarter. (The server said most people ordered three of the standard burgers.) While not quite the Northern dish of poutine, we also ordered a side of fries with gravy ladled over them. The burgers were not served on plates, but just on a piece of wax paper.

The best part of the experience though was the staff. Service was quick and friendly. The woman who announced we were “virgins” was presumably the owner. She visited with us a bit and informed us she and her girlfriends were going to Vegas in two weeks, then added, “We’re hopin’ to get lucky!” After she posed for a picture with me, she reached up and tapped the side of my neck and said that sometimes customers get the restaurant’s namesake before they leave. What a hoot!

Needless to say, Rob and I loved it. I would go back again in a heartbeat for such a fun experience alone, though the food is certainly good and unquestionably cheap.

The Formation of The Gomer and Goober Pyle Comic Book Literary Guild

After attending the 2010 Mayberry days festival, early the next year, my friend Barry asked if I knew how fan club chapters were formed. I told him I did indeed and had thought about doing just that for years, to which Barry responded, “Let’s make it happen!” We soon sent in the paperwork to form an official chapter of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club. Inspired by that mouthful of a name of the national organization (often just abbreviated TAGSRWC), we gave our new chapter a mouthful of a name as well. We called it The Gomer and Goober Pyle Comic Book Literary Guild. I think most people have figured out we are a group dedicated to celebrating The Andy Griffith Show, but I still occasionally hear from those who say Gomer and Goober are funny but they really like all the characters from the show or from those who think the group is only about comic books that were released about the shows.

We learned via email on February 26, 2011, that we had been approved as an official chapter and received our charter on March 2.

Barry soon established our Facebook Group and a mirror Page which was joined by a select few family and friends. For the next six years, we posted sporadically and enjoyed it for what it was. Like most Facebook groups dedicated to The Andy Griffith Show, we used photos from the show as our banner photos.

I mentioned Mayberry Days to my good friend, Rob, and was pleasantly surprised that he thought it would be a fun getaway. The surprise was really more that, while Rob enjoyed the show, he did so as a quite casual fan. He certainly had seen a number of episodes, but much of his viewing had been years ago. So really, he was going not just to learn more about Mayberry, but as an act of friendship to me. I jumped on his offer and in 2015, I  attended again, this time with Rob.

I started this thread to ostensibly explain how author Neal Brower came to be wearing one of our chapter t-shirts at his lecture during the recent Mayberry Meet Up and how Liberty Grove Press came to be. I am getting there, but the 2015 Mayberry Days did not include chapter t-shirts for Rob and I. But what the trip to Mount Airy did include was a stop at another distinctive restaurant.

Hillbilly Hot Dogs Interlude

I don’t mind eating at a chain restaurant every once in a while, but given the choice, I like the one-of-a-kind spot. If Hillbilly Hot Dogs is not one-of-a-kind, I don’t know what the term means.

This fine eating establishment was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. The Travel Channel also did a show a few years ago called The 101 Tastiest Places to Chow Down and Hillbilly Hot Dogs was ranked #15.

On the drive home with Mike after attending Mayberry Days 2010, we stopped at a restaurant I had read about and felt sure I would never be able to convince my wife to frequent. Hillbilly Hot Dogs is on Ohio River Road near Lesage, West Virginia, about 20 minutes up the river from Huntington. As the name of the road implies, the restaurant sits right across the road from the Ohio River pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

I can sum up why my wife would never be overly interested in going there by sharing the comment my dear friend Ann made when she saw a picture of it I posted on Facebook at the time. Ann said something along the line of: “Randy, tell me you got a tetanus shot before you went in there.”


The main seating was in two hollowed-out buses attached to the kitchen. The owners encourage graffiti so I made sure to leave a Mayberry message while standing in line. They have 28 different types of hot dogs with names such as the Snuffy Dog, UK Wildcat, Stacy’s Flu Shot (lots of jalapeños), Egg Dog (yes, it does have scrambled eggs on it), Strickly Business Dog (not a typo), and the Coal Miner.

The owners are clearly okay with graffiti. This is the entrance to the “dining room” where we ate.
On the side of a picture frame, I wrote vertically “Mayberry Lives” then signed my name at an angle below. That was a different Randy who signed the green front of the picture.

My favorite is the Ala Cheesy Beefy Weenie. You start with something I have usually only encountered in the Northeast: a deep-fried hot dog. (In New Jersey and other spots, they sometimes fry them long enough that the casing bursts and call them “rippers.”) Add to that American cheese, nacho cheese, bacon, a wedge of fried mac-n-cheese, Hillbilly Hot Dogs’ own hot dog sauce, and shredded cheese and you have some good eatin’. I didn’t say it was healthy. In fact, at a lot of fun restaurants, I often say it was a treat but if you ate like that all the time, you’d be dead within a week.

Mike and I were not men enough to try it, but someone did order their most famous dog while we were there. Behold the world famous Homewrecker!

A 15-inch-long deep-fried one pound weenie piled high with peppers, onions, nacho cheese, spicy chili sauce, jalapeños, mustard, slaw, tomatoes, lettuce, and shredded cheese (I guess because the nacho cheese was not enough)! That’s 3 1/2 pounds loaded. Eat it in under 12 minutes and you get a free t-shirt but you are on your own for the ride to the hospital.

If you are ever in the area, I heartily recommend it.

Trips to Mount Airy, Part II: Mayberry Days, 2010

As noted last time, in 2010 when I attended my second Mayberry Days, I took my oldest daughter’s boyfriend. At the time, Elise and Mike were students together at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Floyd and the Mayberry Deputy in the parade.

It was a common practice of mine to jokingly (well, sort of…) ask if potential boyfriends of my daughters could answer a few basic questions about The Andy Griffith Show to determine their worthiness. Mike appeared to be a fan early on and brought the subject of The Andy Griffith Show up to me on his own more than once. But was he a true fan or just trying to score points with his girlfriend’s dad?

I mentioned at some point that we should go to Mayberry Days together and he indicated he would like to, schedule permitting. While we did not know until fairly late whether it would work out, in the end, he was able to go. Still new to attending the festival, I had not reserved a room early enough and could not find one in Mount Airy itself. After looking for a place to stay, I was finally able to find a budget motel in a town half an hour away.

Cheerwine was hard to find in Ohio back then, with Cracker Barrel and City Barbecue being the only options. It is–thankfully–readily available now.

I will freely admit that I have stayed in a wide variety of hotels and motels during my life. During my days on a public speaking team in college, we stayed at some fairly decrepit establishments. Those spots didn’t meet my general rule of thumb, which is that all I really need is a clean room. I am not generally traveling to enjoy the hotel but rather the area. I will also freely admit that my wife’s standards are definitely higher than mine and that, as a result, my daughters were not frequently exposed to any budget hotels or motels growing up, which explains the following.


Mike and David Browning at the banquet.

I had made sure the budget hotel (I can’t recall now which chain it was) got good reviews for cleanliness. All the reviews consistently said you would be getting what you paid for (which wasn’t a lot) but that the rooms were clean and bug-free. As this spot was already half an hour away from Mount Airy, I reserved a room there so as not to end up even further away.

In awe of the world-famous pork chop sandwich.


Mike and I came down on Thursday to attend a banquet at the local country club which is held on Thursday night as part of Mayberry Days. After getting autographs from many of the celebrities in attendance, eating dinner, and watching a program headed by The Mayberry Deputy, David Browning, we drove back to our motel. Planning to spend Friday exploring Mount Airy and nearby Pilot Mountain, Mike and I were going to turn in relatively early. However, Mike was deep in the courtship phase with my daughter, Elise, and so that night, as he would do each subsequent night, he walked outside to have a half-hour conversation with her.

Mayberry’s sweetheart, Betty Lynn.

That first night, Mike returned to the room chuckling. When I asked why he related that Elise initially asked if he was having a good time which he told her he was. She then asked what hotel we were staying in, and he answered her. There was a long silent pause, then Elise asked, “Michael, are you okay?” He laughed and told her the motel was fine at which point there was another long silence. Then Elise said, “Michael, you and I are very different people.”

Maggie Peterson Mancuso. “Oh, pa. Can’t I even look at the purty man?”


We really did have a great time at the festival. Mike later admitted he wasn’t sure what the event would be like but by the end of the first day already understood why it was so popular. I am sure getting to meet Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou), Maggie Peterson Mancuso (Charlene Darling), and Elinor Donahue (Ellie Walker) didn’t hurt any.


The ever-lovely Elinor Donahue.


And as to whether Mike is a real fan, there can be no doubt. He proposed to my daughter the next spring. Mike is currently completing a doctorate at Columbia University in New York City where they live along with my first grandson, Peter. They may live in New York City but my grandson definitely knows that Barney Fife says, “Nip it in the bud!”

A stylish shirt!


Trips to Mount Airy, Part I: My First Trips

A couple of posts ago, I noted that author Neal Brower was wearing a t-shirt from a Facebook group I co-manage about The Andy Griffith Show. How he happened to be wearing one of our shirts is a story intertwined with why I formed Liberty Grove Press LLC.

I have been a Mayberry fan all my life. I was too young to have watched or remembered the early seasons, but certainly, by the color years, I was watching while sometimes seeing the black and white episodes in reruns under the title Andy of Mayberry. My interest in the show was rekindled in college when my roommate and I would sometimes watch episodes in our dorm room on the comically tiny black and white television I had. I was relatively oblivious to the early years of the festivals as we were raising a family by that time and simply “out of the loop,” especially pre-internet.

I attended my first Mayberry Days festival in 2006, the year Don Knotts passed away. The loss of such a comic icon may have been what drove me to finally attend one of the festivals, but it actually was not my first time in Mount Airy. My wife is the talented counted cross stitch designer behind Heart in Hand Needleart (www.heartinhand.com). For years, we attended a national needlework trade show in Charlotte and in 2001 made the decision to not do the week-long trip to stand in a convention hall for so many hours any longer. Since it was the last one we would be doing (though we still do a regional show every year in Nashville), I convinced my wife she should fly home while I drove the cargo van back home with an overnight stop in—you guessed it—Mount Airy.

Andy Griffith’s childhood home.

I spent the night in Andy’s childhood home which is now operated as, in essence, a bed-and-breakfast by the Hampton Inn (with the breakfast component being the standard fare available at the hotel nearby). Being in town not during Mayberry Days made for a different experience. My impression is that things have changed in Mount Airy, but at the time, I was disappointed to hear a local shop owner complaining that Andy Griffith did not publicly visit which they thought he should as it would be a boon to the local economy. In spite of that, I had a nice stay, which included not only spending the night in Andy’s old home but a meal at Snappy Lunch on Main Street.

Mayberry Days 2006 was quite a different experience. Tens of thousands of fans descended on the town, especially on Saturday. I attended the festival with that same college roommate with whom I used to watch the series in our dorm room, along with another college friend. I don’t have any photos from that trip readily available but we had a blast.

Mike Howe at the TV Land statue of Andy and Opie.

Four years later, I attended again, this time with my oldest daughter’s boyfriend. At the time, I wasn’t sure if he really liked the show or was just trying to “get in good” with his girlfriend’s dad.

Paul Thorn

In my first blog post I mentioned that a fellow attendee said the Mayberry Meet Up was like a family reunion where everyone loved The Andy Griffith Show. When I typed that, I chuckled as I recalled a line from a song by Paul Thorn.

I know not everyone likes the same kind of music. I have always had broad tastes. I remember clearly in college how a passenger in my Camaro expressed confusion that I had cassette tapes in the console of Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ Men from Earth, The Holst orchestral suite The Planets, Dave Edmund’s Repeat When Necessary, and a Doc Watson album, saying these couldn’t all be mine. But if my tastes lean in one direction, it is toward what some call Americana.

I don’t know that Paul Thorn really fits comfortably in that box. His music is distinctive, sort of a blend of country, blues, and at times, rock. Sometimes he performs solo with an acoustic guitar and sometimes with his band. I first heard him solo as the opening act for John Prine. Paul is from Tupelo, Mississippi and was already working on his music while toiling away in a furniture factory and boxing professionally. In concert, he sometimes tells the story of when he fought Roberto Duran in a prize fight and lost when his cornerman had to throw in the towel due to a bad cut over Paul’s eye. Paul later wrote about it in a song called “I’d Rather Be a Hammer Than a Nail” with a first verse that discusses his factory line work and a last about fighting Duran. A lot of his songs are humorous but others may bring you to tears.

And that family reunion chuckle I had? That was from one of his songs which opens with the lines:

My family reunion is going on today
My relatives have all flown in from places far away
As we sit there eatin’ chicken, it hits me like a truck
I don’t like half the folks I love

Paul often does his own artwork for his albums.

Paul’s father is a Pentecostal preacher and many of Paul’s songs have a moral message underneath though usually not overtly religious. However, one of his most popular songs is an exception. The first verse of “Mission Temple Fireworks Stand” is:

I saw a black man with a Bible and a sparkler in his hand
He was holdin’ a tent revival and runnin’ a fireworks stand
He said, “The end of the world is comin’ so you’d better get on your knees
Today bottle rockets are two for one but salvation’s free!”

Attending a Paul Thorn concert usually has the feel of a tent revival as the show draws to a close. I have posted a few links below but his music is easy to find. I have to share one last story.

Canal Street’s church pews gave the concert even more of a revival feel.

I saw Paul once in a small venue in Dayton, Ohio called Canal Street Tavern that sadly no longer books the type of great music they used to feature. I have seen a lot of great concerts there, and Paul by himself on stage with just an acoustic guitar was one of them. At the end of the concert, Paul had a gift that he gave to a fan near the stage. He said something along the line of, “Friend, I have something special for you. This is an individually packaged slice of Spam. I autographed the package for you. But here’s what you need to do. You take that home, you fry that up, you put that between two slices of Wonder bread with some Miracle Whip on it, and you can call and thank me!”

Give him a listen. You might love his stuff as much as I do.

Links are below.

With my friend LaRonda at her first Paul Thorn concert.

“I Don’t Like Half the Folks I Love”


“Lucky Man” is a good example of one of his songs that isn’t humorous with a great message.


Not the best audio quality, but this bootleg includes him talking about his boxing career before performing “Hammer and Nail.”


“Mission Temple Fireworks Stand”


(A second version of the same song on a cruise ship with a fun introduction is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXPnD368f-0 )

Mayberry Meet Up, Part III


After dinner in the nearby town of Dobson, everyone returned to the Mayberry Motor Inn and joined those who were not with us for dinner. Fans gathered around the gazebo and enjoyed trivia led by Ken Junkin, the Otis tribute artist.



Best keychain ever.

Several presentations were made, the most important being Steve Jackson receiving the Mayberry Appreciation Award from the members of the rerun watcher’s club. Steve did a lot of work not only for the meet up but also for a small town festival held in Danville, Indiana called Mayberry in the Midwest. He also made keychains for everyone inspired by Barney’s single bullet he usually carried in his shirt pocket. Steve’s award was unquestionably well deserved.


Steve enjoying a world-famous pork chop sandwich at Snappy Lunch.

I was surprised to be called before the group by Dewey Lamb who thanked me for the posts I do on The Gomer and Goober Pyle Comic Book Literary Guild and my contributions to Allan Newsome’s Mayberry podcast. Dewey gave me a wooden sign he made with the name of our Facebook group and my name. The gift was completely unexpected but surely appreciated.

Watching TAGS under the stars.

After the games (which also included a “Mayberry Murder Mystery”) and door prizes, it was finally dark enough to watch episodes of the show under the stars. It is always a different experience to watch with a group. Maybe the nicest thing of all was being with a group of like-minded folks all gathered for the same reason. No one talked politics. No one talked religion. No one incessantly checked their cell phone. No one updated others about the national news of the day. Everyone simply enjoyed one another’s company and watching classic episodes together.

The following afternoon, many people went to The Andy Griffith Museum to attend a lecture by Prof. Neal Brower. Neal is the author of the excellent book Mayberry 101 and he conducts a presentation every year at Mayberry Days called “Prof. Brower’s Lecture.” He also does three presentations over the summer at the museum. I was really happy to finally be able to attend one of the summer lectures. As always, it was an informative and fascinating event, but a highlight had to be that Neal was wearing one of our Facebook group t-shirts!

Neal had on a great shirt.

The second evening, food was ordered in and everyone ate together around the gazebo. A group photo was taken followed by more trivia until Mother Nature decided to attempt to spoil the evening with lightning in the distance. Everything was hastily disassembled, folding chairs were put away, and that could have been the end of the evening. Instead, roughly 25 of us stayed outside sitting in the gazebo while the rain gently fell and just had an evening of fellowship. Allan told stories of experiences he has had as a result of being the Floyd tribute artist and spoke about his podcast. At one point, Dewey started a round of people each giving one of their favorite lines. Mine? It’s impossible to pick a true favorite but I have always been amused by a more obscure line delivered flawlessly by Don Knotts in Season 1. Upset with Andy, Ellie Walker said she would go to the church picnic with the first man to walk into the drugstore. When Barney walked in he was taken aback when Ellie authoritatively told him that he would be escorting her to the picnic. Afterward, he looked stunned and said, “I just come in for some foot powder.”

At the end of the evening, while I had enjoyed watching episodes together Friday night, the gathering under that gazebo was so enjoyable I found myself thankful it had rained.

I had to leave relatively early the next morning so Saturday night was the end of the Meet Up for me. It was a drastically different experience than Mayberry Days, but an experience I heartily recommend and that I plan to repeat.