His influence can be seen on Mount Airy, Mayberry Days, and virtually every local tie to The Andy Griffith Show.
Now one of the headline events of the annual Mayberry Days gathering — the week’s golf tournament held at Cross Creek Country Club — will bear his name.
The Emmett Forrest Mayberry Days Golf Tournament will get under way Thursday at 11 a.m., this year renamed in honor of Forrest, who died Jan. 12.
Forrest’s lifelong friendship with Mount Airy’s Andy Griffith has been well-chronicled, as has his extensive collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia. Much of that collection centered around the iconic television series “The Andy Griffith Show,” which ran on CBS from 1960 until 1968.
It was his collection that formed the basis of The Andy Griffith Museum, and his friendship with Griffith was instrumental in securing donations of props from the show, as well as from “Matlock,” another long-running popular show staring Griffith.
According to Tanya Jones, executive director of The Surry Arts Council, the golf tournament was a favorite event for Forrest.
“Emmett was a golfer,” she said of her long-time friend. “Emmett has never missed a golf tournament, he’s chaired the golf tournament, he’s been honorary chair for the tournament.
“Our board of directors decided we needed to do something to honor Emmett…This just seemed like a fitting, lasting tribute to him,” she said.
Forrest’s involvement in the golf tournament also will extend to another generation this year, with his daughter, Terri Forrest Champney, taking on the role of event chairman.
“That’s very special for us,” Jones said.
While renaming the tournament will be a permanent tribute to Forrest, it is not the only one planned for this year’s Mayberry Days.
On Sunday the closing chapel service will be a hometown tribute to the man.
“It will be very similar to the service we did in memory of Andy last year,” she said. That service was dedicated to Griffith, who died the preceding July. “Emmett helped plan that service down to the last song,” Jones said.
Among those who will be sharing in the service will be musician Robbie Britt as well as the Moravian Band, both of whom played during Griffith’s service. One addition to the service will be Craig Southern, who sang at Forrest’s funeral in January.
The golf tournament is a Sheriff’s Choice event, and teams will be handicapped by the staff pro after tee-off. The cost for the tournament, which includes the dinner and entertainment, is $95. Non-golfers can attend the dinner and entertainment for $50. The day’s events are open only to golf outing and dinner participants.
For more information on the tournament, call the Surry Arts Council at 786-7998 or visit mayberrydays.org.
The golf tournament gets under way Thursday morning, with the following schedule (all events listed take place at Cross Creek Country Club, 1129 Greenhill Road ):
- 11 a.m. — silent auction begins;
- 11:30 a.m. — Thad Daber trick golf demonstration on the 17th hole;
- Noon — introduction of guests, review of tournament rules by club staff and the Mayberry Deputy (portrayed by David Browning)
- 12:30 p.m. — Ernest tee off
- 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. — autograph session
- 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. — buffet dinner