Mayberry in the Midwest Festival Takes You Back to Simpler Times

Every fan of The Andy Griffith Show knows Mayberry. It’s that small, charming town filled with friendly, but quirky people. The bumbling deputy, the naive gas station attendant, and the level-headed sheriff who solves everyone’s problems take you back to simpler times. And on one weekend every May, during the Mayberry in the Midwest Festival, the town of Danville, Indiana, becomes Mayberry.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2017. We have updated it for the 2019 event.

Danville is much like Mayberry

Danville actually seems much like Mayberry, except the people aren’t quirky—just friendly. Go to Danville on a summer Saturday, and you’ll find townsfolk gathered at the farmer’s market around the town square. The Hendricks County courthouse stars at the center of the square. Surrounding blocks are filled with small shops, the Royal Theater, and a restaurant called the Mayberry Café.

Mayberry Cafe

Brad and Christine Born named their restaurant the Mayberry Cafe because the town so reminded them of Mayberry. The Café is filled with memorabilia from The Andy Griffith Show and plays the show on televisions throughout the restaurant.

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What is Mayberry in the Midwest?

Playing off the Mayberry Café’s theme, the Mayberry in the Midwest Festival was born in 2014 and was an immediate hit. The three-day festival’s fun, family-friendly events star The Andy Griffith Show tribute artists, as well as celebrities from the show. Maggie Peterson, who played the character Charlene Darling, and Dixie Griffith, Andy Griffith’s real-life daughter were festival guests in 2016 and will be at the festival again in 2019.

Maggie Peterson
Maggie Peterson played Charlene Darling in The Andy Griffith Show

Mayberry in the Midwest Events

The Mayberry in the Midwest Festival weekend kicks off on Friday evening with a Meet-and-Greet and continues through the weekend. Saturday is the biggest event day with a parade, tribute artist show, and contests—a whistling contest and pickle eating contest. (Remember Aunt Bea’s kerosene-tasting pickles?)

Meet-and-Greet

The celebrities and tribute artists change slightly over the years, but they’re all lots of fun. On our visit, I knew we were in for a good time at the Meet-and-Greet when Ernest T. Bass (played by Phil Fox) greeted us at the door.

Phil Fox
Ernest T. Bass, played by tribute artist Phil Fox

The Meet-and-Greet included a buffet dinner catered by the Mayberry Café. Not surprisingly, fried chicken just like Aunt Bea made was the star buffet entree. Tribute artists playing The Andy Griffith Show characters entertained throughout the evening. David Browning, who plays Barney Fife, was a favorite. He has Barney pegged perfectly, right down to his “You’re a nut!” exclamation.

Barney Fife
Barney Fife tribute artist David Browning

I chatted briefly with the delightful Dixie Griffith, Andy Griffith’s daughter. She told me I must visit Mount Airy sometime, that I would love it. Andy Griffith grew up in Mount Airy. The Andy Griffith Show was based on the town. Mount Airy still likens itself to Mayberry.

Dixie Griffith
Dixie Griffith, Andy Griffith’s daughter

 Mayberry Parade

Spectators packed the town square early for the Saturday Mayberry Parade. Equestrian teams, school bands and floats were punctuated with Sheriff Taylor car look-alikes, celebrities and tribute artists.

Mayberry Parade

Vendors and Entertainment

Following the parade we checked out the vendor booths. Vendors were much like most festivals, selling everything from handmade crafts to carnival-type foods. I loved the old-fashioned milkman outfit the Oberweis Dairy vendor was wearing—a perfect fit for Mayberry.

Oberweis milkman

We watched the Miss Mayberry contest on the entertainment stage and stayed for hilarious comedy starring Barney Fife, Floyd the barber, Gomer Pyle and other Mayberry tribute artists. Other entertainment on stage over the weekend included bluegrass music and a pickle eating contest.

Mayberry in the Midwest entertainment

If you go to the Mayberry in the Midwest Festival

Events change over the years, and there always seems to be something new. In 2019 ticketed events include the Meet-and-Greet, “Ronnie Schell: A Tribute to Comedy Legends” or “Q&A with Dixie Griffith.” An Opie look-alike contest, a pancake breakfast, and the Squad Car Nationals continue as annual events.

2019 special guests

Special guests this year include Maggie Peterson Mancuso (Charlene Darling), Dixie Griffith (Andy Griffthi’s daughter), Ronnie Schell (Duke Slater, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.), George Lindsey Jr. (son of George Lindsey who played Goober), and many tribute artists.

The 2019 Mayberry in the Midwest Festival is scheduled for May 17-19. Danville, Indiana is located approximately 20 miles west of Indianapolis. Check the Visit Hendricks County website for details.

Accommodations: Check room rates in and near Danville, Indiana

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Mayberry in the Midwest

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Disclosures: Visit Hendricks County hosted our visit to the Mayberry in the Midwest festival. However, all opinions in this article are my own.
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3 thoughts on “Mayberry in the Midwest Festival Takes You Back to Simpler Times

  • March 29, 2017 at 5:53 am
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    We’re from the UK and have therefore never heard of the Andy Griffiths show or Mayberry, but it seems like the festival would be great fun. You look like you had a great time, despite missing the basketball game. Danville looks like a cute little town and well worth a visit. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • March 29, 2017 at 9:19 am
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      The Andy Griffith show is an old sitcom from the 60s that continues to live on in reruns. We did have great fun at the festival.

      Reply

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