Where might you find a thriving Mayberry spirit, hundreds of scarecrows and a dozen ghosts (including Elvis) in a Middle Tennessee community that’s far more sentimental than spooky?
Why Granville, of course.
The headquarters of this scenic Cumberland River village, which was settled in 1799, is the 1880s Sutton’s Store. It has been called one of the most charming general stores in America by “Country Living Magazine,” named No. 1 in the South by “Taste of the South” magazine, and, to top things off, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in May.
This year and going through 2020, the town’s promotional theme is “a Mayberry town,” as Granville reflects an atmosphere similar to the sights, sounds and friendliness shown on the 1960s TV sitcom, “The Andy Griffith Show,” which was set in the mythical community of Mayberry, N.C.
“Granville has been described for a long time as a Mayberry town. It’s like stepping back to a simpler time, a lifestyle we long for of days past,” said Randall Clemons, president of Historic Granville. “You’re gonna get a feel for that here with all the scarecrows and Mayberry scarecrow people taking you back and it will remind you of ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’
“We have people come here from all over the world. Everybody relates to ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ and the theme has been so successful for us,” said the banker, who portrays Mayberry’s Otis Campbell in plays produced here near the Valentine’s Day and Christmas holidays.
The town’s seventh annual Scarecrow Festival runs through Oct. 31.
Lunch will be served from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at the 1950s Diner (aka Clemons Antique Car Garage), which seats 125. The menu features hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork and all the trimmings.
“Every building will have a Mayberry name,” said Clemons about the emphasis on “The Andy Griffith Show.” “When guests arrive, they will get a six-page guide. It will start at Meyers Lake (the Cumberland River) and tell about the Mayberry aspects and the Granville aspects of each site.”
Examples include the Mayberry courthouse temporarily setting up in the Granville office, with Andy Taylor and Barney Fife guarding Otis Campbell, who is in cell No. 1. Floyd’s Barber Shop will be at Granville’s Barber Shop Museum. Andy’s home will be represented by the Sutton House with scarecrows of Aunt Bee and Opie. Wally’s Garage will be at the Antique Car Museum with Gomer Pyle, and the Bluebird Diner will be in Sutton’s Store.
Other Mayberry sites revived here include Weaver’s Department Store, the Mayberry Bank, the Mayberry Theater, Emmett’s Fix-It Shop, Thelma Lou’s home, Helen Crump’s home, the Mayberry Hotel and Mayberry Church.
Granville’s Scarecrow Festival was prompted by Cynthia Matthews, who moved to Granville from a California town that held scarecrow fests, and Matthews creates the human-like scarecrows seen around here. She has received assistance from Cumberland University Art Department students who painted faces on burlap.
Some of the scarecrows have been made by Home Demonstration Clubs, while students at Jackson County High School and Gordonsville High School crafted scarecrows of historical Tennesseans. The Master Gardeners of Putnam County created farm scenes for inside the barn and chicken coop at the Pioneer Farm.
It takes more than 200 volunteers to make the fall festival click. One of the main cogs is Granville native Liz Bennett, who says, “I do whatever needs to be done.” The Fix-It Woman’s main beat is in or around the Sutton Homestead.
A Sights and Sounds of Granville Ghost Walk is set for Oct. 25-26 and features 12 stories and promises the return of Elvis. The nocturnal event cost $8-$10.
Saturday’s Mayberry Street is free, while a guided tour of the Sutton Homestead is $5 and includes a printed guide.
For those looking for a respite from big-city life, a few hours in Granville will nip it in the bud.