An annual Hendricks County tradition, the 2017 Mayberry in the Midwest Festival returns to Danville May 19-21, bringing wild characters, loads of laughter, music, food, and family fun to our own little slice of Mayberry here in Central Indiana.

I'll give you a general overview of this year's Mayberry in the Midwest here, and then we'll delve more in-depth into the festival in future blog posts as the event nears.

Wild Characters

Keep your eye out for Phil Fox as Ernest T. Bass, as well as the other tribute artists during Mayberry in the Midwest.It wouldn't be a festival based on The Andy Griffith Show without the men and women who come from all over the country to portray characters from the show throughout Mayberry in the Midwest. Pictured above, courtesy of the Mayberry in the Midwest Facebook page, these outstanding tribute artists do uncanny impressions of Barney Fife, Aunt Bee, Ernest T., Gomer, Otis, Floyd and other favorite characters from the show.

The tribute artists mingle with the crowd and are also involved in several activities throughout the weekend, providing plenty of laughs and photo opportunities -- plus their own Tribute Artist Show on both Saturday and Sunday of the festival.

Would you like to enjoy a delicious dinner with the tribute artists, as well as Maggie Peterson (Charlene Darling), Dixie Griffith (Andy Griffith's daughter), and Ronnie Schell (Duke Slater from Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.)? You can meet all of these folks, get autographs, and share a down-home meal catered by -- of course -- Mayberry Cafe on Friday, May 19 at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds & Conference Complex in Danville by clicking here to purchase your tickets for just $30 a piece.

Loads of Laughter

Ronnie Schell and Jim Nabors from "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." (photo courtesy of Ronnie Schell Facebook page)Not only does hilarity ooze out of the tribute artists throughout the weekend of Mayberry in the Midwest, Ronnie Schell, who will attend this event for the first time and was on a couple of episodes of The Andy Griffith Show before starring with Jim Nabors on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., is performing two different comedy shows during the weekend at the Royal Theater.

On Saturday, May 20, at 9:30 p.m., he'll perform A Serious Evening of Hilarious Comedy, telling stories about his career. Tickets are a mere $20 each for this show, and they can be purchased by clicking here.

Ronnie Schell returns to the Royal Theater on Sunday, May 21 at 2 p.m. for another comedy show -- this one titled My Life After Gomer. He has some funny stories to share about his experience working with Jim Nabors and other characters, and he has some great outtakes to show. He'll answer questions from the audience at this performance, too. Click here to purchase your tickets for just $15 each.

And from noon to 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, make your way to the free stage on the south side of the historic Hendricks County Courthouse Square because you won't want to miss The Tribute Artist Show. You can't possibly watch this performance and not laugh.

Music

There will be plenty of music and laughs on the stage during Mayberry in the Midwest.Bluegrass is the the focal point of all of the free musical performances that will take place on the stage throughout the Mayberry in the Midwest weekend.

Enjoy the toe-tapping talents of The Treblemakers, Reckin' Crew Bluegrass, Borrowed Tyme Bluegrass, Coatesville Friends Bluegrass, Redeemed Quartet, Hoedown Cloggers and the Cumberland Gap Band at various times.

All musical performances and other entertainment on the Hendricks County Courthouse Square stage throughout the weekend are free and family-friendly.

Food

Get your Saturday started at Mayberry in the Midwest with the Firemen's Pancake Breakfast, which will be held from 7 to 10 a.m. at the Danville Fire Station located at 77 N. Kentucky St. -- an easy walk from the Courthouse Square.

And we're not going to let you starve on Sunday morning, either. The Danville Christian Church, located just west of the Mayberry Cafe, is hosting a Biscuits & Gravy Breakfast from 7 to 10:30 a.m.

Food vendors will be on the Courthouse Square to fill your belly, and several locally-owned restaurants are on the square or a very short walk from the square.

You will not go hungry at Mayberry in the Midwest.

Family Fun

Downhill Derby at Ellis Park during Mayberry in the Midwest (photo courtesy of Mayberry in the Midwest Facebook page)I can't possibly do justice to all of the family-friendly activities and fun that will take place throughout the weekend. You're just going to have to come to Mayberry in the Midwest and experience it for yourself.

There will be a parade through town on Saturday at 11 a.m., Squad Car Nationals at the Hendricks County Government Center on Saturday at 3 p.m., Danville Parks & Recreation's Downhill Derby at Ellis Park on Saturday and a local celebrity basketball game on Saturday evening at Danville Town Hall.

On the Courthouse Square, Opie's World play area and Tractor Town will be open for most of both days, plus you can play cornhole and other games. There's even an Opie Look-A-Like contest!

The Hendricks County Historical Museum will be open on both days with various demonstrations that will keep families entertained. You can also explore the old Hendricks County Jail while you're there.

For those who enjoy shopping, the festival will have plenty of vendor booths both days. See if you can find that special item to purchase that makes your memorable weekend complete.

Join Us for Mayberry in the Midwest!

Aside from the Meet & Greet Dinner and the two Ronnie Schell comedy shows described above, Mayberry in the Midwest is free to attend and enjoy. Free parking abounds throughout Danville, and all of the activities are centrally-located around the Hendricks County Courthouse Square or within a very short walk of the square.

So click here to download the entire schedule of events, and then make plans to bring the whole family to Danville over the weekend of May 19-21 for the 2017 Mayberry in the Midwest Festival!

2017 Mayberry in the Midwest Festival