Small Indiana town becomes Mayberry for unique festival
Actors mimic show's characters
Parade, game shows, contests, music on tap
The small Indiana town of Danville is taking on the identity of a fictional -- but iconic -- community that was made famous on 1960s television.
“Mayberry in the Midwest” is a unique, homespun festival that re-creates the cozy aura of one of television’s vintage icons -- “The Andy Griffith Show.”
In its second year, the celebration of a more innocent time runs Friday, May 15, through Sunday, May 17, in Danville, which is in the first county west of Indianapolis’ home county.
Things will be buzzing around the Hendricks County Courthouse Square for the distinctive, homey fest.
Themed activities and sites include a Mayberry parade and Opie’s World, which is named after the son of Sheriff Andy Taylor -- the sitcom’s chief character.
Scheduled to make an appearance is Karen Knotts, the real-life daughter of the late Don Knotts, who portrayed bumbling, but endearing, deputy Barney Fife.
The inaugural “Mayberry in the Midwest” in 2014 drew an estimated 4,000 visitors over the course of what was then a two-day festival.
Featuring actress Maggie Peterson, who played Charlene Darling in guest spots on “The Andy Griffith Show,” this year’s festival has high hopes when it comes to beating last year’s turnout.
“We’re expecting it to be even bigger,” said Josh Duke, communications manager for the Visit Hendricks County tourism body.
He thinks Danville -- with a population of about 9,500 -- has much of the feel of TV’s Mayberry.
“It’s just a real welcoming community,” Duke said. “Danville encompasses that kind of a small-town feel. It’s not a stretch for Danville to turn itself into Mayberry for a weekend.”
Danville will make the conversion by dishing the “Win a Date with Ernest T.” game show (named after the Ernest T. Bass character) and by decreeing an “Opie Look-A-Like" winner.
Also on tap is “Mayberry After Dark,” a courthouse-square endeavor for adults that encompasses a scavenger hunt, pub crawl and walking tour.
“Mayberry After Dark” is a popular ticketed event that is sold out.
In a video vein, reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show” will be shown May 16 on the big screen at the Royal Theater.
Additionally, a slew of tribute artists will mimic characters from “The Andy Griffith Show,” and mingle with the crowd. The characters being reprised include Goober, Gomer and Floyd the Barber.
The idea of “Mayberry in the Midwest” sprang from Danville’s Mayberry Café, which takes its name from the famous town in “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Located at 78 W. Main St., the restaurant is peppered with pictures and other decorating accents that reflect the series. The food likewise evokes the spirit of the show.
The Mayberry Café has been in existence for 24 years, according to Christine Born, who owns the quaint eatery along with her husband, Brad.
Born calls Danville “picturesque,” with “Americana values.”
As longtime business people in Danville, she and her husband are driving forces behind the festival, which also gets help from other sources that include the town planner, the Downtown Danville Partnership and scores of volunteers. The fest has free admission, but likewise offers several ticketed events that showcase the creative energy of Danville.
“It’s a family community,” Born said. “It’s kind of nice to be able to give something back to the community. It’s still got a lot of the charm of the Mayberry era.”
Supplying a direct link from the TV show to the festival will be Rodney Dillard, who portrayed one of the Darling boys on the series.
Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band are going to serve up bluegrass music the Saturday evening of the fest at the Town Hall.
For more details, visit www.VisitHendricksCounty.com or www.Facebook.com/VisitHendricksCounty -- or call (317) 718-8750.