Film Documents 'Real' Mayberry: Mount Airy, North Carolina

Film Documents 'Real' Mayberry: Mount Airy, North Carolina

11:49am Nov 14, 2017
The city of Mount Airy shares a lot of small-town qualities with the fictional town of Mayberry, but it faces its own unique problems. Photo courtesy of Bill Hayes.

A documentary screening in Winston-Salem on Tuesday tells the story of Mount Airy, North Carolina. The city is the inspiration for Mayberry, the fictional town of the Andy Griffith Show, and the movie aims to separate fact from fiction. The film’s called “The Real Mayberry.”  

The city is trying to transform itself and bring new life to the area. Mount Airy experienced severe job losses over the first decade of this century. Approximately 9,000 people were out of work, in a city with a population around 10,000.

But some jobs have come back. Small-scale manufacturing has returned, and the tourism sector is thriving.

Bill Hayes is the director of “The Real Mayberry." He says the city’s future depends on getting millennials to stay, and the way to do that is through culture and good jobs. 

“The lifeblood of any town is their young people. It is probably the number one challenge of small towns anywhere, as to how to either keep their young people - or probably better - get their young people to go out and get educated then come home again with that new knowledge, skills, and experiences.”

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Hayes adds that the fictional Mayberry does share similarites with Mount Airy. People are friendly, he says, and there is a strong-knit community. But the problems the city faces today are far removed from what people saw on the Andy Griffith Show. 

"It's more complex. It's got bigger problems," says Hayes. "It's also exploring its future in terms of ecotourism and, you know, the answer is not going to just be factory jobs or a new way of agriculture. It will be many more factors than that and ecotourism is climbing quickly to the top of that ladder."

The movie "The Real Mayberry" screens Tuesday at a/perture cinema in Winston-Salem, and will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.

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