Food is a part of any festival or event, but it takes on a special role at Mayberry Days.
Some folks happily waited 30 minutes or more for the taste of a Snappy Lunch pork chop sandwich; some stayed up all night cooking for the barbecue competition.
Others mashed their faces into Aunt Bee’s Crustless Cream Pies or into holes cut into human sized pickles for a picture.
“They’re being a part of Mayberry,” said Kenneth Junkin, of Gordo, Alabama, a 26-year veteran of the event and member of the Tuscaloosa based Hardy Eating Men and Beautiful Delicate Women chapter of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club.
“It was a big part of the show,” said Junkin, mentioning Aunt Clara’s pickles and Goober’s peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.
“Food fueled the show and food fuels us. Andy, being from here, loved these southern dishes. That’s what I think of Mayberry, good old southern food,” he said.
“That’s what it’s all about, just being in Mayberry, the food and the games, all the events relate so well to the show.”
Some of the food-related festivities have a direct connection.
Surry Arts Council volunteers Julie Adams and Barbara Haynes manned the pickle toss in front of the Andy Griffith Playhouse on Friday.
Though they couldn’t remember exactly what episode involved the homemade pickles, they knew Aunt Bee’s attempt at copying a friend’s recipe turned out terrible.
Greg McMillian, of Harlan, Kentucky, scored himself a large jar of Mt. Olive pickles, which were donated to the arts council by the North Carolina-based company.
McMillian, renowned for a two-year winning streak of Mr. Tucker’s Apple Peel Off Competition, with many years of runner up status behind that, was hoping for his third win this year.
The competition also appeared in an episode, McMillian said.
“It’s just fun,” said McMillian, an Andy Griffith trivia buff who owns every episode on DVD.
Amassing knowledge of the small details of the show is at the heart of what Mayberry Days is all about, he explained.
“It just makes it good,” he said. “We go home every year and watch for new things.”
Other food-related events have a more tenuous connection to the show but have a deep connection with Mayberry values.
The barbecue contest is one of the most popular events.
Karen Gwitt, of Roanoke, Virginia, waited with a group at the Blackmon Amphitheater to see if her favorite chefs would win any awards.
“I don’t remember them really talking about it on the show,” she said. “It’s just a real iconic southern food. It’s part of the overall feel of the place.”
Mary Dowell, owner of Snappy Lunch, said Andy Griffith only ever mentioned the restaurant once, in the epilogue of “Andy the Matchmaker.”
However, the establishment, and the sandwich, has in many ways become synonymous with Mayberry.
Ron Eberhard, of Grove City, Ohio, likes his pork shop sandwich “run through the garden.”
“It’s unique,” he said of the establishment, family run, where people treat you right and don’t charge $8 for a sandwich.
“It was real good and messy,” Eberhard said of his lunch. “If you ever go to Mayberry, you’ve got to eat a pork chop sandwich.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.