The events of the weekend got off to a great start with Friday night's (July 7, 1995) Annual "Dinner with the Stars". About 100 TAGS fans were in attendance along with the special guests:
Barney Fife (David Browning), Oliver Gossage (Phil "Ernest T. Bass" Lee, also known as Ralph Henderson), and Floyd Lawson (Allan Newsome) were also there to mingle with the guest.
The cast members were given gifts by our host for the weekend, Bob Scheib and Family The gifts were: a money belt for "Dud" (complete with the ribbon from Charlene and the other valuables he kept in the belt), a jar of Miracle Salve for "Johnny Paul" a book of Mountain Folk Lore for "Charlene", and a "Key to the City of Mayberry" for Richard O. Linke.
The gates opened Saturday at 8:00am and there were quite a few folks there waiting for the days events to begin. A convoy of 7 Mayberry Squad Cars came rolling up to Wally's a little before 9:00 and got the ball rolling.
Barney, Ernest T., and Floyd came speed, speed, speeding into Wally's in a Squad Car with the lights flashing and siren blaring!!! The impersonators signed autographs and talked to folks for about an hour as they waited for the BIG moment to arrive. A WEDDING right there at Wally's. (Darn guy's gonna get himself hitched.)
The music for the wedding was supplied by the Darling boys (at least they could have sure enough passed for 'em) and the 'bride' was escorted up the steps onto Wally's stage. 'She' was wearing a white wedding dress that hit just below the knees and a pair of boots with men's dress socks??? I couldn't make out 'her' face as she had on a veil and all.
The preacher began the service saying, "Dearly beloved..." Just as he started, a blast from a shotgun rang out. Silence fell on those gathered for the service and someone could be heard yelling, "Stop that weddin'!!"
It was Ernest T. Bass come to steal Charlene away from Dud. He took the 'bride' by the hand and held the gun on the guest warning them to, "Keep your hands up," while he stole Charlene away to be his own.
As soon as they were out of sight, the real bride and groom (Chris Fodor & Gary Cogar) came out and said their vows. (It was a beautiful piece of work. Just beautiful.)
After the service was over, Ernest T. and his 'bride' were back on the stage. Ernest T. was sayin', "You're mine. You was meant to be mine! And you will be mine. Charlene...I'll make ya' a fine husband. I'm a little mean, but I make up for it by being real healthy. Say you'll be my beloved."
With that, the 'bride' turned to face Ernest T. and pulled back the veil. It was Barney Fife! He said to Ernest T., "I wouldn't marry you if you were the last man on earth!" Ernest T.'s eyes rolled back in his head for a minute as he looked upon his 'beloved' lady sheriff.
Phil and David did a great job! You should have seen Barney in that dress. David said later that this was the first and last time he'll wear a weddin' dress. (NUT!)
The wedding and interviews with each cast member was broadcast live by "Good Morning Mayberry" on Cincinnati's WMOH 1450AM radio. The show's on every Saturday morning from 10am to noon. If you're in the area, be sure to tune in and tell the hosts, Mark "Golden" Richards and Dennis Hasty that Floyd says, "hey."
Later in the day, cast members again took the stage and were asked questions by members of the audience. After they'd answered all the folks questions, they signed autographs and talked to folks for the rest of the afternoon.
There was a trivia contest, an Opie look-a-like contest, and a chapter T-shirt contest that took place while folks were standing in the autograph lines with old Mr. Schwamp and some slumped over teenage boys. The Chapter T-shirt contest winner was the Aunt Bee Haven Chapter of Anniston, AL. Second and third place went to "2 and 2 Make 4" and the "Hardy Eatin' Men and Beautiful Delicate Women." Congratulations to these fine T-shirts.
Throughout the day you could find Barney riding in a sidecar or standing by a Squad Car, Ernest T. singing "Old Aunt Maria", and Floyd cutting hair and showing pictures of cats he used to catch in the alley out back. The fellers would also pose for a photo with anybody who was willing to take a chance on breaking their camera.
It was a great day and the weather could not have been better. "People always talking about the weather...."
There's so much more that went on that can't be expressed in words If you ever have a chance, go to a Mayberry event. I promise that you'll meet some of the best people you'll ever know. I've never been disappointed.