Just in time for Mayberry Days in Mount Airy, a campaign has been announced to establish an official North Carolina license plate honoring the fictional town popularized by “The Andy Griffith Show.”
“It’s certainly been talked about for a long time,” Executive Director Tanya Jones of the Surry Arts Council — which sponsors Mayberry Days — said Monday of the effort to make the special tag a reality for North Carolina vehicle owners.
Before that can occur, 500 applicants must sign up to receive the plate, under Division of Motor Vehicles regulations.
Also, it will require vehicle owners to spend some money up front, according to an announcement about the Mayberry tag campaign, which kicked off near the end of last week.
It is being undertaken by an “Andy Griffith Show” fan, Don Teague, who lives in Hillsborough and launched an organization known as the Mayberry Plate Fund.
“This guy is going to be here,” Jones said of a planned appearance by Teague at Mayberry Days later this week, “and he will be promoting his project.” He is scheduled to be in an autograph area of the Andy Griffith Museum.
Teague, 51, explained Monday that he is a longtime Mayberry fan and a charter member of the Barney chapter of the Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club.
“It’s a thought I’ve had in my head for a while and I decided I wanted to do what it took to make it happen,” Teague said of the process for the special tag which will require much time and effort. He began working on it this summer.
The design for the license plate includes the familiar likeness of Andy and Opie heading to the swimming hole, with the words “I’d rather be in Mayberry” overhead.
Applying for the special tag will cost $30, a registration fee established for the effort, in addition to the regular $36 charge that all vehicle owners must pay to obtain a North Carolina tag. Those who desire a personalized plate also will pay an additional $30, for a total of $60 just for a personalized Mayberry plate.
Of the $30 registration fee, $10 will go to the DMV, $2.50 will be paid to the copyright owner of the Andy and Opie logo and $17.50 is to be donated to the Surry Arts Council. It operates the Andy Griffith Playhouse and Andy Griffith Museum in addition to sponsoring Mayberry Days.
Once the 500-applicant requirement has been reached, the plate design will be presented to the state General Assembly for consideration at its session beginning in January. Teague said he must submit everything by Jan. 1 to the Legislature, where Sen. Shirley Randleman, who represents Surry County, has agreed to sponsor a bill for the plate.
Up to now, 189 special plates have been established in North Carolina, honoring everything from universities to NASCAR stars and organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the Lions Club.
After it is approved by state lawmakers and the collected funds are submitted to the DMV, production of the tags will begin. Plates are expected to be delivered to applicants no later than 180 days after the General Assembly’s session ends next March 15.
“If it takes off,” Teague cautioned Monday. “There’s no guarantee.”
In case the campaign doesn’t reach the 500-applicant requirement or it is not approved by the General Assembly, the uncashed checks or money orders sent by applicants will be returned.
“We certainly hope it works out,” said Jones, the Surry Arts Council official.
Other information and instructions about the Mayberry plate campaign are available at http://tagsrwc.com/the_ebullet/mayberry-license-plate-campaign-in-n-c/ (a link included on a Facebook page for the Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club).
“I think it’s a way for Andy nuts like us to show our pride,” Teague said of the Mayberry plate.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.