DANVILLE — Residents here, along with a host of visitors, are taking a step back in time for a unique summer festival that is making its debut here, but has proven to be very popular in others areas of the country.
The inaugural Mayberry in the Midwest event is May 17 and 18 on the Historic Downtown Square here, with additional activities going on throughout the town.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, with a VIP dinner on May 16. Tickets for the dinner are $40 and they are available online at http://www.visitdowntowndanville.com/mayberry-in-the-midwest-festival/.
Saturday activities kick off at 7 a.m. with a pancake breakfast at the Danville Fire Station, followed by a parade at 11 a.m.
There will be 12 tribute artists — all performing a skit on stage, mingling with the crowd, posing for photos and signing autographs. They will be interacting with the public both days. Experienced tribute artists from all over the country will reprise some of the show’s iconic characters such as Barney Fife, Gomer Pyle, Goober Pyle, Floyd the barber, Ernest T. Bass and many others.
On Washington Street, between Main and Clinton, a “Tractor Town” will be filled with antique tractors on display. On Jefferson Street, “Opie’s World” will provide children with bounce houses and rides.
Two actors who had roles on the original show will be here as well. Maggie Peterson Mancuso, who played Charlene Darling on the show and is now 73, and Rodney Dillard, who was the Darling brother who played the guitar on the show and will celebrate his 72nd birthday that weekend, plan to be there to meet fans.
Dillard, who is now a minister and still performs with a band — Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band — will even host a bluegrass concert at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Amphitheater in Ellis Park. He will also provide a church service on Sunday morning at West Bridge Church, which is just outside of Danville at 1521 S. C.R. 75 W.