From 1960 to 1968, The Andy Griffith Show reigned superior on the CBS network as one of America’s best sitcoms. Never dropping lower than seventh in the Nielsen Ratings, it has even made TV Guide’s rankings as the ninth best show in TV history.
This weekend, the small community of Danville, Ind., will host its first ever Mayberry in the Midwest festival and one of our own local citizens will be playing a star role in the event.
Rachael Polston of Warsaw has been named by the Danville Chamber of Commerce as their SuperFan for the weekend event. The honor will allow Rachael and her husband, Randy, to take part in tonight’s VIP Meet and Greet dinner with the stars of the show — and those who will portray other characters from the original series — and serve as the festival’s honorary parade marshal in Saturday morning’s parade.
A huge fan of the Andy Griffith Show, which portrayed Griffith as the sheriff of the fictional community of Mayberry, N.C., Rachael will be riding in tomorrow’s parade with Maggie Peterson, who played Charlene Darling on the show, who is the Mayberry in the Midwest parade marshal.
Only two original cast members will be at this weekend’s festival — Peterson and Rodney Dillard, who played of the Darling boys — but eight tribute artists portraying more prominent characters from the series have also been cast for the event. Rodney and the Dillard Band will also perform in concert on Saturday evening as part of the festival.
Tribute artists as part of the event will be David Browning as Mayberry Deputy Barney Fife, Allen Newsome as Floyd the barber, Phil Fox as Ernest T. Bass, Kenneth Junkin as Otis Campbell, Michael Oliver as Gomer Pyle, Tim Pettigrew as Goober, Jeff Branch as Howard Sprague and Bob Mundy as Brisco Darling.
Also of note, the real Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), will make his last appearance at this month’s Indianapolis 500 where he will since “Back Home Again in Indiana.”
The Mayberry in the Midwest festival is May 17-18 in Danville. Events will include a pancake breakfast from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday at the Danville Fire Station, arts and crafts vendors open for business from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The Mayberry Parade will be at 11 a.m. Saturday.
According to the Mayberry in the Midwest website, the Hendricks County Historical Museum will have an original jail cell decorated with all the comforts of home — just like Otis would expect in the Mayberry Jail. You can also look for Aunt Bee humming around the 1950′s-era kitchen.
The historic Royal Theater will be showing reruns of The Andy Griffith Show on the big screen. Go inside and relax for a few minutes as you watch your favorite Mayberry characters on the silver screen.
Throughout the day, the stage will have a variety of entertainment to delight both young and old. Listen to music, watch the Tribute Artist Show, or cheer on participants as they compete in a dozen different Mayberry-themed Contests featured on stage.
To register for a contest, visit the Welcome Center located at 68 S. Jefferson St. in Danville.