The spirit of Mayberry was fully on display Friday morning as hundreds of fans from across the country converged on the Blackmon Amphitheatre for the opening ceremonies for this year’s 24th annual Mayberry Days festival.
The event featured a proclamation read by Mayor Deborah Cochran opening the festival, but for many of those in attendance, it is about coming home to a simpler time.
“People ask me what it’s like to come here,” said George Lindsey Jr., the son of George Lindsey, who portrayed Goober on “The Andy Griffith Show.” “It’s hard to describe, but it’s more a state of mind than anything. I’m sure that right now my dad is up there smiling looking down. Happy Mayberry Days.”
Cochran told the crowd that the city is “proud to have a relationship with the legendary Andy Griffith and his television show.
“We proclaim that Sept. 26-29 be designated as the 24th annual Mayberry Days in the city of Mount Airy, as a tribute to the show that has instilled values in friendship, honesty and overall good living,” she said.
Laney Johnson, president of the Surry Arts Council, told the audience that everyone is welcome in Mayberry.
“We are so happy to have you in Mount Airy, where we work hard to make it as close to Mayberry as we can,” she said.
The ceremony featured the presentation of keys to the city to Lindsey Jr. and Roland White, who performed on the show as one of The Country Boys and is attending the festival for the first time this year.
An emotional White said he wished he had started attending the event years ago. Looking at many of the performers assembled on stage, he said it was “like a big family reunion.”
“This is pretty great,” he said quietly.
Actress Morgan Brittany, who portrayed Opie’s first love on the show, Mary Alice Carter, told the crowd that the world could use a little more Mayberry.
“I really appreciate all of you being here today,” she said. “Because without all the fans keeping Mayberry alive, it could die. But you keep it alive and no one is ever going to forget Andy, Opie and Barney, because they live on inside you.
“Keep the values of the show in your hearts, because we need them in this world we live in today.”
“(Griffith) shaped the lives of many generations before he passed away, but his memory will live on forever,” she said.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.