Mayberry in the Midwest Festival, May 15-17, 2015
By Josh Duke
Welcoming and entertaining more than 4,000 visitors over two days in 2014, the first-ever Mayberry in the Midwest proved to be a rousing success. Expecting more visitors in its second year, organizers want to do even more as they have added another day, more ticketed events and additional free activities to the zany fun that made last year’s festival so popular.
The quiet Hendricks County seat of Danville will transform again into the iconic 1960s fictional community that was home to Andy, Opie, Aunt Bee and Barney for the Mayberry in the Midwest festival May 15-17, 2015. Former cast members, amazing tribute artists and even Don Knotts’ real-life daughter, Karen Knotts, will take visitors on a journey inside their televisions to experience life in Mayberry.
“We have been to other Mayberry festivals, and although it was Danville’s first year hosting Mayberry in the Midwest, they did a great job making Danville feel like the fictitious town of Mayberry,” said Tena MacDonald, an Indianapolis resident who attended last year’s Mayberry in the Midwest with her husband. “Having the tribute artists really takes you there and brings Mayberry to life. We were so excited to hear that Karen Knotts is going to be in Danville this year. We saw her one-woman show in Mt. Airy (N.C.), and it was fantastic. It should draw a lot of people.”
The three-day festival will surround the historic Hendricks County Courthouse Square with numerous themed activities including a Mayberry parade, Opie’s World, Tractor Town, Squad Car Nationals, reruns of the show on the big screen at the historic Royal Theater, food and vendor booths and much more. Two original Andy Griffith Show cast members, Maggie Peterson Mancuso, who portrayed Charlene Darling on the show, and Rodney Dillard, who played one of the Darling boys, also will return. Tribute artists reprising many of the show’s most popular characters including Barney, Goober, Gomer, Floyd the Barber, Ernest T. Bass and others will sign autographs, mingle with the crowd and perform on stage.
But organizers also wanted to infuse new activities into this year’s festival including:
Karen Knotts – She will share hilarious stories from life with her legendary dad.
Mayberry After Dark – This activity billed as part scavenger hunt, part pub crawl and part walking tour will include a one-of-a-kind keepsake and other surprises.
Mike Toomey Comedy Show – National comedian Mike Toomey will present his “Mayberry Centric” stand-up routine.
Game Shows – Mayberry-themed game shows requiring audience participation.
“Mayberry fans are loyal, dedicated and willing to travel a long way to be part of a Mayberry celebration,” said Christine Born, owner of the Mayberry Cafe and event organizer. “Danville is a perfect community to host this event with its Main Street charm and hometown Americana personality, so we want to enhance that with new and creative ideas to keep this event entertaining and interesting. We learned a lot last year and a lot of what we changed and added reflects an effort to make this festival stand out.”
The festival and most of the activities are free. However, a few ticketed events will be held throughout the event.
Limited tickets just went on sale for a VIP Meet & Greet Party inside the Hendricks County Courthouse Rotunda, Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band concert, Karen Knotts’ retrospective, Mike Toomey Comedy Show and Mayberry After Dark. For more information or to purchase tickets, visitMayberryintheMidwest.com.