Danville, Indiana, celebrates its small town charm annually with “Mayberry in the Midwest” festival. It’s based on the old “Andy Griffith Show.” The owners of the Mayberry Café were the catalysts for the celebration. But, Danville could pass for Mayberry every day of the year.
The county seat of Hendricks County, Danville has about 9,000 residents. Its main attraction is the town square. The county courthouse sits in the middle of the square. The older building provides an outstanding back drop for other attractions and events.
We enjoyed a nice walk about in Danville during our visit to Hendricks County, about a 45-minute drive west of Indianapolis. The square was our focus point, but – as we often do – we also colored outside the lines with checking out the area.
We caught the farmers market while in town. It had a nice selection of vendors – from folks selling fruit and vegetables to some unique handmade products. A vendor was selling wooden furniture and accessories. We had no idea that maple syrup could be made in Indiana, but we saw homemade syrup sold in little log cabin-style containers. Another vendor sold handmade African items.
Restaurants and stores dot the square. We loved an art coop. The artwork – all Indiana produced – was beautiful and ran a gamut of tastes. Photos, food and ornaments were among the items sold.
The Royal Theater shows new releases. We are fans of the older theaters. They have a nostalgic feel, despite showing digital films.
A couple blocks from the square is the Hendricks County Historical Museum. The museum is situated in an old sheriff’s house and jail. It was an interesting visit. One the main floor, you can take in local history, including items from a former college. Normal College called Danville home in the early 1900s. It no longer exists in town.
A handmade exhibit highlighting “Hoosier Stars” was interesting. Several celebrities, politicians and writers were among the hundreds listed.
The basement was the best part of the museum – and a bit scary. The old jail cells are on display. You can walk inside them, they were separated by sex. The men’s cells were much larger than the women’s. I wonder why. LOL
Original graffiti on the walls and ceilings still exist. It could be some people’s only proof that they existed. It was also a bit eerie to see comments, initials or names scratched into the steel.
Since the sheriff was responsible for caring for the inmates, his family lived in the house. The sheriff’s wife would often prepare meals. There was a window (with bars at the time) separating her from the inmates as she served the meals.
The family could entertain guests in a parlor a few feet from the jail’s door. The museum decorates each room to represent a time period, such as the 1940s or ‘50s.
The sheriff’s office reflects law enforcement attire and equipment through the years.
Another room in the museum recognizes county residents’ roles during the various wars in our history. From the Civil War to the recent Persian Gulf conflicts, the museum pays tribute to those who served the nation.
Danville’s main street is a busy highway that runs through town. What better place to start a countywide mural project? A mural that recognizes the county’s history is painted on the side of the county tourism office.
You’d be hard pressed not to find a great place to dine. We enjoyed three meals during our weekend visit. The Bread Basket Café is located a couple blocks off the main street in a refurbished house. The fresh fruit and vegetables used in preparing meals is impressive. I could taste the freshness in a tomato in an omelette.
Oh, the desserts! Bread Basket bakers are a talented group.
Mayberry Café pays homage to the “Andy Griffith Show.” The restaurant’s décor uses pictures and other items reflective of the fictional Mayberry. Clips from the show run on a loop. The owners are fans of the show.
The food is amazing and is just like Aunt Bea would make, the restaurant says in menu descriptions.
Diesel is a good spot to catch sports. The grill and bar features the front of a truck in its bar.
Just outside Danville is Beasleys Orchard. It was a fun visit. The orchard has about two dozen apple varieties. The orchard also has pumpkins available. It’s one of a few officially approved mazes honoring the 50th year of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The maze was designed to represent the Peanuts cartoon.
Hendricks County has about 150,000 residents, with its communities ranging from a few hundred to several thousand. Danville’s size fits its personality well. As you visit Danville, you do get the small town feel. A visit does feel like you’re in Mayberry. And it’s a fun feeling. We recommend that when visiting Hendricks County, take a walk around Danville and enjoy the sights.
For more information on Danville and its attractions, please visit www.visithendrickscounty.com.