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Emily West’s fascination with Andy Griffith was cultivated as a child, joining her mother every day after school to enjoy “”The Andy Griffith Show” during dinner.
“It was our routine,” she said.
While West is too young to recall the show’s first run on television, she fell in love with characters who inhabited the fictional sleepy town of Mayberry through reruns, she said.
When Griffith died earlier this month at age 86, the Historic State Theater’s executive director felt a part of her world die too.
“It was like I lost a member of my own family when he died,” she said, talking about the personal nature of her efforts to remember the actor.
To honor Griffith’s legacy, West has arranged a week in mid-August at the Historic State Theater focused entirely on his body of work that will include airings of classic episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.”
The Best of Andy Griffith begins with a 7 p.m. Aug. 14 showing of the 1958 film “No Time for Sergeants,” one of Griffith’s more recognizable movies. It includes a scene with Don Knotts, who starred as Sheriff Andy Taylor’s bumbling deputy, Barney Fife, on “The Andy Griffith Show.” Tickets for the film are $3.
West chose to withhold festivities on Wednesday night because it typically is reserved for church services, but the week will resume at 7 p.m. Thursday with five classic episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” for a ticket price of $3.
On Friday, Aug. 17, the theater hosts a 7 p.m. showing of the made-for-TV film “Return to Mayberry” for $2.
The week culminates Saturday with a 7:30 p.m. comedy/tribute show, “Tied up in Knotts,” performed by Karen Knotts, daughter of Don Knotts.
An established performer, she pays tribute to her “funny and terrific dad” in comedic fashion, including the portrayal of members of her own family, West said. Preferred seating for Knotts’ performance is $20, general admission is $15 and balcony seating is $12. The theater also will host a meet-and-greet session with Knotts in the First Federal Galley banquet room.
Hardin County Performing Arts Center Director Bart Lovins shared Knotts’ press kit with West, and it fueled her desire to host a week of activities, which West said she has wanted to do for a while now.
“This is it,” she said of linking up with Knotts. “This is a sign that I’m supposed to do this.”
Griffith’s passing stoked the urgency and she planned the entire week following his death.
“We need to strike while the iron is hot,” she said.
Because of the low cost for the film showings, she suspects many will purchase tickets at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at the State Theater or by calling (270) 234-8258.
To add a flourish to the week, Kevin Addington has loaned the Historic State Theater his replica of Andy Taylor’s police car, which will be displayed outside the theater during the day and showtimes.
Addington has loaned the car to other events, including Mayberry Days in Vine Grove earlier this year, which was coordinated by the city to honor the show. Mayor Blake Proffitt, a huge “The Andy Griffith Show” fan, often has referred to Vine Grove as “my Mayberry.”
West said she is fortunate to be in the position to pay her respects in such a public way.
“I am so thankful to have a job that allows me the opportunity to implement events like an Andy Griffith week,” she said.
Addington said the show has the same transcendent quality fishing does and is enjoyed by all ages for its clever writing, comedy stylings and quality acting built around a simple storyline. Even the music and theme song is iconic, he said.
“You can’t find anyone, whether they’re 8 years old or 80, who doesn’t like ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’” Addington said.
Elizabethtown Mayor Tim Walker weighed in on the week Monday, touching on Griffith’s perceived immortality.
“Andy Griffith was one of those people you thought would live forever,” he said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.