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Deputy Barney Fife still patrols in Mayberry

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By Wayne Lazarus on August 17th, 2010

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

Strolling with his young son to a fishing hole, the whistling sheriff called many to the television set decades ago.  Mount Airy, North Carolina is Andy Griffith’s hometown and the setting for the fictional town of Mayberry. Every September the town pays homage to its fame with a Mayberry Days Festival. A special celebration in 2010 will mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic television show. Guests will include Betty Lynn who played Thelma Lou and Karen Knotts, daughter of Don Knotts. Visit the Andy Griffith Museum, opened in 2009, to see memorabilia from the television show. Downtown, you can stop in at Floyd’s Barber Shop, Opie’s Candy Store, the Mayberry Courthouse and Snappy Lunch.

parade47 (2)Just a few weeks later in October, the Autumn Leaves Festival features some 170 arts and craftsmen, and the evenings are rich with the music of the area — bluegrass, gospel and old-time. Started as a harvest party in 1966, this event attracts almost 200,000 people annually. Local civic groups bring out their best cooks, offering ham and biscuits, cornbread and collard greens, barbeque and plenty of other festival treats.

aleaf8 (2)The celebration of food and music are a part of life here. The first Saturday in October is reserved for the Sonker Festival. (A sonker is a deep dish pie, made with the fruit of the season. It is a local tradition.) Every Saturday morning, the country’s second longest running live Old Time Bluegrass and Radio Show is broadcast from 11 until 1:30, but a jam session starts earlier at 9. The public is invited to both.

Mt. Airy was selected in 2005 by Pinnacle Living magazine as one of the top 23 mountain towns, and as one of the top 100 retirement towns in 2010 by TopRetirements.com. Local wine is quickly becoming a part of the culture here as well. The region is now home to over 24 wineries, many of which are open to the public.

In nearby Cumberland Knob, another anniversary will be marked in September 2010 — the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Celebrations will include historic exhibits, storytelling, food, music and entertainment. Make your reservations in Mt. Airy or Winston Salem, 40 miles south.

Photos courtesy Mount Airy Visitors Center. Used with permission.

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