Donna Shelton and Jimmy Stewart, of Mount Airy, hadn’t planned on starting a garden that day when they dropped by the 2016 Mayberry Farm Fest held downtown Saturday.
Then they saw the Rolling Meadows Farm booth.
“We got here and started looking and it’s like, let’s do this,” Shelton said, guessing that the couple had purchased 20 or 30 or so plants — watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and who knows what else.
“I’m ready to go and plant now,” she said, providing they could haul all those plants to their car.
The annual festival, which is presented by the Mount Airy Downtown Business Association and sponsored by seven businesses, celebrates the area’s rich agricultural heritage.
“It just brings back memories of growing up,” Shelton said. “All my dad ever did was farm. He’d grow the biggest watermelon you could think of.”
She recalled folks from all around coming to their place, picking from the fruits and vegetables to take home.
“We didn’t have much but we always had a garden.”
Attractions including classic — and modern — — tractors, animals, arts and craft vendors, food and live entertainment filled Main Street and portions of side streets, which were closed to traffic.
“The turnout is great,” said Lizzie Morrison, Main Street coordinator.
“We were very excited about the weather,” she said, referring to a forecast that had threatened rain, which had held off until a downpour erupted shortly before 2 p.m.
Before that, festival goers had enjoyed a dry, sunny experience.
“I think this is probably one of the most family friendly events,” Morrison said. “There’s been lots of kids enjoying face painting and pony rides, you can hear them,” she said, as a a gaggle of chittering youngsters passed by on the street.
“You can hear how excited they are.”
Mason Stone, an 11-year-old from Mount Airy who stopped by to pet a cow with the phrase “too cute for hamburgers” shaved into the fur on its side, said the tractors are his favorite part of the festival.
And beyond that, “I just like being here,” he said.
Craig Bingman, known around town as Ernest T. Bass from “The Andy Griffith Show,” and James Slate, who portrays Otis, were stationed in front of Snappy Lunch playing chess and checkers.
Slate noted that Farm Fest highlights an aspect of Mayberry known more from the spin-off “Mayberry R.F.D.,” the premise of which revolved around Aunt Bea’s move out of the city limits into the county.
The show’s acronyms stand for Rural Farm Delivery, or Rural Free Delivery, explained Slate, a former post office worker.
Jack and Dorothy Beekman, a pair of visitors from Ohio who stopped by on their way home from a trip to Raleigh, found the festival an unexpected treat.
The Beekmans too were drawn in by the verdant offerings at the Rolling Meadows Farm booth and picked up some plants to carry home.
“It’s incredible,” she said. “They’re are much better quality than ours at home.”
Proprietor Trish Draughn said business had been good.
“It’s going really well for us,” she said, adding that they typically sell from the farm’s greenhouse on Copeland School Road in Dobson, but Farm Fest is one of the few events they attend in the year.
“It’s really wholesome, with the tractor parade, the kids and the music,” she said. “It’s kind of just what Surry County is all about. A good place to raise a family.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.