Mayberry in the Midwest, 2017

I started this blog by discussing my first trip to the Mayberry Meet-Up gathering in Mount Airy and then recounted my experiences at previous Mayberry Days before the most recent There is another festival that is in between these two events in scope and if you are in the Midwest, is a closer drive.

Mayberry in the Midwest is held every May in Danville, Indiana, just about 20 miles west of downtown Indianapolis. I attended for the first time in 2017 but Mother Nature was less than cooperative. I drove over early and met two of my favorite cousins for breakfast south of Indy. The skies already looked dark when I walked into the Cracker Barrel and by the time I left for Danville, it was pouring rain. As I drove, the rain increased to the point that there was little visibility. I thought about just turning around at that point, especially as I was going over by myself and did not really know anyone there to any great degree, but I figured I had come this far so I pushed on.

Unfortunately for an outdoor event, the scene that greeted me when I arrived.

The rain had let up somewhat when I finally arrived but it was still heavy enough to need an umbrella. Mayberry in the Midwest is held in the town square and is, in essence, a Mayberry-themed street fair. I had missed the parade which I learned still was held in spite of the rain. Shows are provided on a covered stage set up in the street by the courthouse. There was a nice selection of bluegrass being played throughout the day. The Mayberry tribute artists and cast member Maggie Peterson Mancuso—better known to Mayberry fans as Charlene Darling—also performed. A trivia contest was held. There are many options for carnival food and the local restaurant, The Mayberry Cafe, is also on the square though it was crowded when I walked by. There was an entire street of vendors selling gift items Mayberry-related and not.

Squad cars in the rain.

To give you an idea of how new I still was to the Mayberry community, I saw Allan Newsome near the stage when I first walked into the square. Even though I was wearing a Gomer and Goober Pyle Comic Book Literary Guild t-shirt, and even though at that point I had submitted roughly dozen “This Week in Mayberry History” audio reports for Allan’s podcast, I still introduced myself thinking he likely would not necessarily know who I was by sight. When I introduced myself, Allan looked a bit surprised and said, “I know who you are.” So I may have been wrong on that one.

I stayed a decent part of the day and watched a lot of the afore-mentioned shows. I introduced myself to Jeff Koontz, one of the people that makes Mayberry Days a reality, and was surprised that he seemed so pleased to meet me. It turns out he was following the daily Facebook posts I began a few months earlier that I called “Today in Mayberry History.”

I had a long drive back and was by myself, so I headed out a few hours later to meet one of the cousins I had breakfast with for an early dinner in Indianapolis. Weather is obviously out of the town’s control but had already decided I would be back the next year and spend more time at this fun event. I also learned that not long after I left—of course—the weather broke and it was beautiful the rest of the weekend.

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