Two Chairs No Waiting 253: Mayberry Tourism

by Floyd on September 24, 2013

Two Chairs No Waiting

Two Chairs No Waiting

Host: Allan Newsome
Running time: 0:18:20

There was talk in newspapers this summer about tourism related to The Andy Griffith Show and how it was slowing down.  I don’t know exactly what evidence the writer was using to write the article but I had the feeling that there wasn’t really any proof of things slowing down.  It was more of a “people can’t really keep enjoying ‘Mayberry’ so things have to be slowing down.”

I can’t say how things are in Mt. Airy, NC all year round but I can tell you that the Mayberry fans that live there don’t see “Mayberry” as dying.  I don’t think things are like some in Mt. Airy seem to believe and neither does John Peters who writes for PilotMountainNews.com.

Mr. Peters wrote an article in September 2013 titled “Still Plenty of Demand for Mayberry Tourism” and in this episode we’ll explore what he had to say as well as comment on his report.

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Janet September 25, 2013 at 4:20 pm

The article you read was interesting, Allan, especially the fact that some people in Mount Airy really resent the Mayberry connection and dislike the way the town uses it for tourism purposes. The reason that struck a chord with me is that the same thing happened in my hometown of Clay City, Indiana.

Clay City is a very small town of a little under 1,000. The people of Clay City have worked hard to keep their town going and keep it a good place to live and raise families. For example, a number of years ago, the county school corporation wanted to close Clay City’s high school and send all the kids north to the county seat. Clay City area residents fought back against this effort and succeeded in not only keeping their high school but in getting a new building, too. They knew that if they lost the school, people would move away, and there wouldn’t be much hope for the town to continue as it was.

Several years ago (if memory serves, around the year 2000), some people got together and formed a group to promote the town. They saw a lot of similarities between Clay City and Mayberry–small town, slow pace, friendly people, traditional values, etc. So they decided to dub the town “The Mayberry of the Midwest.” The vast majority of the townsfolk heartily approved and got on the bandwagon. New signs were erected at all three major entrances to the town reading “Clay City–The Mayberry of the Midwest.” An article ran in the Indianapolis Star about this, and some major media outlets picked up on the story, thus giving Clay City its fifteen minutes of fame. The “Today” show invited a couple of Clay City residents to the show in New York to discuss the Mayberry link, one supportive and one opposed. The lady who opposed the idea (one of my former classmates and a nice gal) didn’t want people to think of the town as a bunch of hicks, just like the person quoted in the article you read. Fortunately, she represented only a handful of folks, and I think most of them surely didn’t watch the show or understand what it represents.

Though that was several years ago, the town still embraces their Mayberry motto. At the visitors center, you’ll find the town’s Mayberry squad car. It’s retired now but used to be driven in a number of parades all over the area. Just down the street from the visitors center is the Mayberry Malt Shoppe, where all the food items are named after TAGS characters. The A & W Restaurant is decorated with Mayberry photos. And during the summertime, the town has special nights when they set up a temporary screen outside the visitors center and show a few episodes of TAGS. People bring their lawn chairs and settle down for a good time. They even pop up a huge bowl of popcorn so viewers can munch during the shows. All in all, it’s a great little town and a good place to live.

Oh, and I have to add this little side note. After the whole Mayberry thing started, the town of Coal City, which is a few miles down the road, decided to get in on the act and dubbed themselves “The Mt. Pilot of the Midwest”!!

Well, I didn’t mean to go on so about Clay City, but that article you read got me started! I think our country would be a much better place if more towns tried to emulate Mayberry! Don’t you?

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