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Mayberry Days festival will go on with mask mandates and social distancing, Mount Airy organizers say

Mayberry Days festival will go on with mask mandates and social distancing, Mount Airy organizers say

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Mayberry Days, 2016

David Karle of Chesapeake, Ohio takes a photo of his wife, Toni, Barney Fife look-alike, David L. Browning outside the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy during Mayberry Days, the annual five-day celebration of the Andy Griffith Show.

Mount Airy is still planning to hold its annual Mayberry Days festival Sept. 21 to 27 this year, though it will look a little different because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, which draws thousands of visitors to Mount Airy each year, commemorates the legacy of "The Andy Griffith Show."

"Mayberry Days is and has always been about sharing our town, the town where Andy Griffith grew up, and the town that was a significant inspiration for the creation of Mayberry, the iconic small town," said Tanya Jones, executive director of the Surry Arts Council, which puts on Mayberry Days.

She said the arts council will be following all safety guidelines at events, including wearing masks and social distancing, and attendance will be limited for some events.

A tentative schedule has been posted online at www.mayberrydays.org,​ though some events are preliminary and may change, depending on restrictions put in place by Gov. Roy Cooper.

It is not yet clear how concerts, performances, appearances by celebrity guests and the annual parade will be handled. 

Most contests have been moved to the Blackmon Amphitheatre, where Jones said social distancing is possible for contestants and organizers. "Mayberry contests are about having fun at simple events, not about mass gatherings," she said. "Participation will be controlled at our registration station, permitting multiple smaller contests when necessary."

For instance, the checkers event has been moved to a picnic area where social distancing can be achieved, and there are new rules and back-up plans in place for contests.

The golf tournament has been reduced in size, she said, with one golfer per cart unless partners are members of the same family or household.

Jones said fans have been emailing and calling to check the status of Mayberry Days.

"We are mandating masks and limiting attendance in the Andy Griffith Museum gift shop and have been since Phase 1 allowed retail to occur," she said. "We had plexiglass shields installed in both the Andy Griffith Museum gift shop and the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall gift shop.

"Those who do not wish to wear masks are invited to return after pandemic guidelines are relaxed."

Mayberry Days, she said, "is not a closed-off street or mass gathering event. It is about sharing our town, and it always has been. We cannot cancel sharing our town."

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​@tclodfelterWSJ 

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