Since Liberty Grove Press LLC was founded with the goal of increasing the number of books available about The Andy Griffith Show, it should come as no surprise that my first blog post is Mayberry-related. In future posts, I won’t limit myself only to discussing my favorite television series, but anyone who knows me will not be surprised that it will be a frequent topic.
After attending for the first time in 2006 and again in 2010, for the past several years in a row I have attended the festival known as Mayberry Days, always held the last full weekend of September in Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. The weekend of July 20, however, I was able to attend a quite different event: my first Mayberry Meet Up in beautiful Mount Airy.
The Mayberry Meet Up is a much more laid-back affair than Mayberry Days which draws tens of thousands of Mayberry fans over the weekend. The event last weekend was attended by roughly 80 fans and was held on the grounds of the Mayberry Motor Inn. I am a fan of spots that are unique to an area. During the Mayberry Days festival, the motor inn is always booked with the “tribute artists” who perform as characters from the show during Mayberry events. I have perennially kept my name on the waiting list for the motor inn to no avail and thus have always stayed at the Hampton Inn. So just getting to stay at the motor inn was a treat.
The motel is a pristine example of the “motor hotels” that were once the primary type of road accommodations for traveling motorists. Like most of this dying breed, the building consists of guest rooms and an office joined side-by-side with doors facing the parking lot. Because of the connection with the Mayberry family, some of the rooms have plaques inside naming the room after cast members such as Maggie Peterson-Mancuso (Charlene Darling) or Allan Newsome and Kenneth Junkin, the Floyd and Otis tribute artists respectively.
Speaking of Allan, he and his wife Jan are the organizers of the event which started in 2013 when he was in town to interview Betty Lynn who played Thelma Lou and who now lives in Mount Airy. Allan announced he was open to visiting with fellow fans and long story short, it became an annual tradition that has grown every year.
Someone at the event was asked what the Meet Up was like and they responded it was like a family reunion where everyone loves The Andy Griffith Show. That is a great description. I knew a few of the people there in advance from previous Mayberry Days and through Facebook, but I felt welcome by all. I can guarantee that anyone would feel welcome in such a group. It was my first time to attend but it won’t be my last.