Mayberry Days 1997
By Jeff Koontz (a.k.a. Opie at Sarah's Chatroom)

Mayberry Days 1997 was better than ever. I got to meet all my friends that I have been visiting with and getting to know from the internet chat site. As wonderful as they are online, they are even better in person. It was truly a top 5 weekend in my life.

Doug Dillard BandWe all met Friday night for the Doug Dillard concert. He was one of the original Darling boys (the banjo player, they're all keyed up) and has a good band with him now. After the show, we all hung out around the pool at the hotel for pizza and got to know each other a little better.

The Mayberry DeputySaturday started early and I knew Mayberry Days had grown in popularity because my usual spot for parking got a little further away than previous years. The parade was pretty much the same as years before - squad car, potato queen, old cars, TAGSRWCs, special guests, beauty queens, etc. I got some decent photos this year.

We had scheduled to meet folks at 11:00 in front of the Andy Griffith Playhouse, so we headed over there to visit, play checkers, and listen to the live music on their outdoor stage. It was approaching lunch, so a couple of us headed for Snappy Lunch to get some porkchop sandwiches (as mentioned in the show). The line was long and a little over an hour later, we came back with the sammiches in tow. Then I had to wait another 20 mins to get a "big orange," but it was a nice chance to visit with folks and meet new ones.

Oliver Gossage
Oliver Gossage at Mrs. Wiley's Tea Party

After lunch we headed toward Mrs. Wiley's Tea Party (no coffee, tea or punch, thank you). They moved it across town, but luck was with us. We ran into the Mayberry Deputy heading the same place as we were, so we walked along with him until the lady who runs the visitor center told us the Tea Party isn't across the street from the visitors center any more, but "I'd be glad to run you over there as long as you get back here for the pie eating contest." So all 12 of us got in her Explorer and rode over to the Tea Party. She pulled right up in the midst of it all and we all unloaded to the crowd. That was the highlight of the weekend - who would have expected that.

Romeena and Floyd
Romena and Floyd

We promised to get Barney back to the pie eating contest on time and then went to meet and get group photos with Jackie "Sweet Romena" Joseph and Maggie "Charlene Darling" Peterson-Mancusoand see the antics of Phil Lee who does a great Ernest T Bass. I got to meet the Pickle Queen (really cute girl and I've got a photo to prove it) and I got to hear stories of some of Friday's activities from her and the Tanya (the Surry Art Council Exec Director).

Maggie Peterson

We went into the house to visit with Ernest T and Barney and heard some interesting stories from David (Barney) about some of the work that he has done and has in the works. He keeps a full schedule with 300 appearances a year now - 95k miles on the car this year alone. Allan "Floyd" Newsome arrived and we all headed over to the visitor's center for the pie eatin' contest. I walked along with David and Allan and heard some stories about what all they go thru during an event like this - pretty amazing to do what they do as well as they do it and make it through such long days.

We got Barney to the contest at 2:58, so we held our word. The group sort of dissipated from there - some went inside to see all the Andy Griffith memorabilia, and I watched the pie eating contest. There were other folks there who we knew from the internet, so we got to meet them too.

My favorite event is Professor Brower's lecture at the cinema. I got to visit with him a few minutes at the contest and it doesn't look like he will be teaching his TAGS class in Raleigh unless the Methodist Church moves him from his district here (he is a minister in Lewisville, NC - right outside of W-S). I worked my way down to the show and finally got to meet up with my friends Max & Margaret from Winston-Salem. They spent most of the day there, but we were never at the same place at the same time. I felt badly because after the presentation, I knew I would meet up with my group for the TAGSRWC (Rerun watchers club) dinner meeting and wanted to introduce them. They went to see Barney just across the street and I forgot to do the introducing before we all got inside. Professor Brower showed "Divorce Mountain Style" and talked about the show afterwards, sharing some interesting stories from when he talked with the writers.

Jim Clark
Jim Clark Presiding Goober of TAGSRWC

The dinner meeting was interesting - Jim Clark (who started the whole thing) introduced all the clubs that he recognized and states represented - I think it was 26 and 3 countries. He made an award to the 1000th club - I talked to the couple who won and they had no idea they were the winners, but suspected something was up after everyone hinted that they really need to be there tonight. While we ate our fried chicken, potato salad, beans, fried apples and peach cobbler, individuals from different clubs got up and talked about what all they did during the year. Some of the groups are really active - vacation together, community involvement, but mostly getting together and watching shows and eat. I guess I've been doing that for 3 yrs now on my own with some friends from the office, but Phil "Ernest T." lives just down the road from me and I talked to him about getting up with his group.

Bernard P FifeNext on the agenda was Col. Tim's Talent Time at the Playhouse. We were entertained by mostly local talent - lots of young folks who can sing and perform very well. The annual event of Melvin playing his fiddle and then getting first prize held true this year too. I spent some time visiting with Tanya in the lobby and she had some hilarious stories about some of the folks who performed. The show was capped off by David Browning donning the old "Salt-n-Pepper" suit and they had folks from the audience as the Mayberry Choir do "Good Ol' 14-A" for everyone. It was great.

The last event of the evening was the 1st annual Bowling Tournament. We cheered our team on to a finish, then they started giving out door prizes and everyone who bowled got something. We left the alley about 12:30 and went to get some food at the waffle house. I stayed up visiting with a couple of my friends and slept well that night.

Cast at KannapolisSunday the rain set in, but there were no MD activities planned in town. We had enjoyed incredible weather the whole weekend up till then. We worked our way down to Old Salem in Winston-Salem and had lunch at a place called Mayberry's then walked around the area for awhile before putting the rubber to the road and getting to Kannapolis for "Memories of Mayberry." Fortunately one of the group heard on the radio that they had moved the show from the baseball field to the high school, but I didn't know where that was. We made it to the field and they had posted maps, so we fell in behind someone who had one and there were about 10 cars in line heading for the show. We were a Howard Morris and Jackie Josephfew minutes late, but made it before they started. The DillardsThe show was good, but not really memories of Mayberry as much showcasing the current talents of the stars who came. Only a couple of them told stories from their TAGS days. It was entertaining for the most part, but getting to meet the folks afterwards was nice. Almost all of them were very friendly and glad to be there. They had photos to sell or would sign what you brought. I forgot my books, but still stood in line to meet Ernest T. Bass, Arlene Galonka, and Sweet Romeena before heading back home.

We are planning on making it even bigger next year too. I am still a little sad that the weekend had ended, but will always remember my 4th Mayberry Days.