Transforming Mount Airy into Mayberry: Film-Induced Tourism as Place-Making

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Derek H. Alderman (Creator)
Stefanie K. Benjamin (Creator)
Paige P. Schneider (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:

Abstract: Film-induced tourism is increasingly popular in the United States and globally. Scholars have tended to emphasize the effect of movies and television in forming the image of tourist destinations and thus influencing traveler motivation and experience. In this article we shift discussion of film tourism beyond simply place image formation to consider it in the broader context of place-making. Such a perspective offers a fuller recognition of the material social and symbolic effects and practices that underlie the construction of film tourism destinations and their place identities as well as the ideologies power relations and inequalities that become inscribed into the place transformation process. We focus on film tourism in Mount Airy North Carolina the birth place of television actor Andy Griffith and delve into the remaking of his home town into a simulated version of Mayberry. Griffith popularized the fictional town of Mayberry in his 1960s television series and it continues to resonate with fans of the show. Mount Airy is marketed to visitors as the “real life Mayberry ” despite what Griffith has said to the contrary and the city hosts an annual Mayberry Days Festival which we visited and photographed in 2010. A preliminary interpretation is offered of the landscape changes bodily performances and social tensions and contradictions associated with the remaking of Mount Airy into Mayberry. We also assert the need to address the social responsibility and sustainability of this transformation particularly in light of the competing senses of place in Mount Airy generational and racial changes in the travel market and the way in which African Americans are potentially marginalized in this conflation of the “real” and the “reel.”

Additional Information

Southeastern Geographer 52 2 (Summer 2012): 212-239
Language: English
Date: 2012
Tourism, Film tourism, Television tourism

Email this document to

This item references:

TitleLocation & LinkType of Relationship
Transforming Mount Airy into Mayberry: Film-Induced Tourism as Place-Making described resource references, cites, or otherwise points to the related resource.