An Alamance County educator is spearheading a campaign to create a specialty license tag honoring the mythical Mayberry.
Home to Sheriff Andy Taylor and other homespun characters from the 1960’s CBS series “The Andy Griffith Show,” the name of the idyllic hamlet could bloom on bumpers next year if Don Teague is able to sign up 500 potential buyers.
North Carolina already offers 189 specialty tags ranging from college plates to five varieties of NASCAR emblems.
A design for the tag says “I’d Rather Be In Mayberry” and shows a silhouette of Andy Taylor and son Opie walking toward the fishing hole with rods in hand.
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If Teague, who teaches Spanish at Woodlawn Middle School in Mebane, can get 500 buyers to put up $30 each for the cost of the tag, he can apply to the state Department of Motor Vehicles for the plates. If he doesn’t reach the threshold, he says he will return the deposits.
Once the DMV accepts the design, the legislature would be required to approve the plates, then production could begin.
“I think the tag will sell itself,” says Teague, 51, who lives in Hillsborough.
At weekend festival
He plans to sign up potential users this weekend at the Andy Griffith Museum during the annual Mayberry Days festival in Mount Airy, the hometown of Andy Griffith and model for Mayberry. Each year the festival attracts up to 50,000 visitors.
Specialty tags cost $30 above the price of regular tags and part of the proceeds can be earmarked to special purposes. Teague says $2.50 of each sale will go to the copyright holder of the plate’s logo and $17.50 would go to the Surry Arts Council, which hosts the annual festival, the Andy Griffith Museum and Andy Griffith Playhouse. Handling costs collected by the DMV account for the remaining $10.
Teague became a fan of “The Andy Griffith Show” while attending N.C. State University and watching the show in reruns.
“Those Don Knotts years, those black-and-white years,” says Teague, “that was some incredible comedy.”
Knotts, who died in 2006, played the bumbling deputy Barney Fife. His daughter, Karen Knotts, will be entertaining Friday and Saturday nights at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.
Mayberry remains popular
Tanya Jones, executive director of the Surry Arts Council, says the idea has been discussed for years, but Teague is the first to do all the work to make the license plate a possibility.
“He is a very devoted fan,” she says. “He’s passionate about Mayberry.”
Others appear to be as well. Already, Mount Airy’s hotels are sold out for this weekend during the festival and ticket sales are up about 20 percent over last year.
Teague says he knows of no other specialty tags across the nation dedicated to a television show. If it takes off in North Carolina, he says, it may catch on elsewhere in the Southeast.
“I am hoping it will take off,” he says. “Already, one woman has called from Utah.”