That Small Town Feeling
Mayberry Days festival in Owenton, Ky., celebrates life in a small town
Businesses, residents get into
the act of portraying Mayberry
OWENTON, Ky. (June 2017) – Mayberry Days may be a town festival in Owenton, Ky., during Father’s Day weekend June 16-18, but many people downtown feel they live in Mayberry year round. The annual festival is held around the Owen County Courthouse Square.
• Saturday, June 17, around Owen County Courthouse in Owenton, Ky.
• Art show, car show, live music and more
“Richard Greene, the insurance guy around the corner, started the festival a few years ago,” said Owen County Tourism Director Joyce Duvall. “He liked antique cars and ran the festival for a few years.”
The first event had 80-90 people. The second grew to 300-400.”
Soon, the town Farmer’s Market and Arts Council jumped on board, and Mayberry Days became a reality for Owen County.
“We encourage people to take dad to the country,” said Duvall. “Don’t make him grill in the back yard.”
Greene, a State Farm Insurance agent said, “I love old cars and Owen County. Every very little town needs a niche. A lot of them are struggling, and tourism is something we can hang our hat on.”
He started Mayberry Days because of his love of the small home town portrayed on the Andy Griffith television show that centered in the fictional town of Mayberry.
“We deal with people from other similar areas,” he said. “That said, this little place reminds me of Mayberry. In some places, most people do not even know their neighbor. I love this little place. People speak to you here.”
The Darling Crew Band (middle four men) pose with look-a-likes Barney Fife (far left) and Andy Griffith (far right) in this photo used to promote the upcoming Mayberry Days festival in Owenton, Ky. The event is set for June 17.
The event starts on Friday evening, June 16, with a Farm to Table event. The $35 tickets are a fundraiser for the Farmer’s Market.
“It was such a big success that everyone wanted us to do it again,” Duvall added. “All the food is local, with pork and lamb donated from local farmers.”
The Farm to Table event started when Farmers Market member Patty Petzinger saw a photo of a similar event in Tennessee and wanted one here,” said Duvall. “I almost picked up my lamb plate and licked it because the sauce was so good.”
It was a challenge to transport the food the first year. They needed a certified kitchen, so they used the middle school kitchen. They also had a food truck and a smoker.
Petzinger is also Owen County Council for the Arts vice president, so the council added its Arts in the Park exhibit to Mayberry Days.
“Arts in the park has been held for nine years as a juried art and music festival,” she said. “Good groups are playing, and it has up to 800 people. We partnered with the nearby town of Gratz to promote the Kentucky River. We had 25-30 artists, and not all local. We have so many well known artists from outside the community – so many that people don’t know yet.”
The musical groups come from Cincinnati and Louisville but change their names and appearance to match the Mayberry Days theme for the day. A band on the TV show was called the Darlings, and a Cincinnati band will become the Darlings for the festival.
Photo by John Sheckler
Mayberry Days organizer Richard Greene and Owen County Tourism Director Joyce DuVall are busy promoting the upcoming festival from the tourism office in Owenton, Ky. The festival features live music, a car show, art show, Farm-to-Table Dinner, Mayberry lookalikes and much more.
“It makes you think of Andy Griffith and a little town in South Carolina that is the real life Mayberry.
“The county has 37 miles of the Kentucky River, and the Elk Creek Winery, the largest winery in the state.”
“We don’t have Andy’s hometown, but a lot of people can’t afford to travel to Mt. Airy,” said Greene. “Everybody likes old cars and trucks. All these things connected me with Mayberry.”
Businesses in town also change names for the day to match the feeling of Mayberry. Two antique stores will become Otis’s Antiques and Aunt Bee’s Boutiques. A local restaurant will become the Bluebird Diner for the weekend and offer a blue plate special.
Andy and Barney characters will wander the festival, and the squad car will be at the car show.
The theme carries over to the activities. There is cane pole fishing in City Lake for kids on Sunday. There is no contest for the biggest fish, just kids from 4-13 years old with cane poles at the lake.
“We have enthusiasm,” added Duvall. “On Saturday, there is art, cars and games for the kids. There are pickle and baking contests and a golf scramble.”
She also has pride in other Owen County attractions.
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