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Autumn Leaves Festival™: North Carolina’s Top Fall Festival

Mount Airy, North Carolina, is famous for being the hometown of Andy Griffith and the real life representation of Mayberry. The town is a great vacation destination with unique attractions, close proximity to Yadkin Valley wineries, and can’t miss community festivals.


The attractions of Mount Airy cover a spectrum of interests. If you're a fan of The Andy Griffith Show, this is your dream destination. Whether you're visiting Andy Griffith’s childhood home or The Andy Griffith Playhouse (his elementary school where he began performing), his entire career is highlighted. Even the downtown will have you feeling like you're vacationing in Mayberry, with buildings from the show like the Old Mayberry Jail and Floyd’s City Barber Shop.


Pilot Mountain State Park is one of the top parks and geological formations in the region, and it’s only 20 minutes southeast of downtown. Pilot Mountain is the region's most unique rock formation, rising 2000 feet above the landscape. The mountain has served as a navigational tool for centuries and the park is a great place for hiking, biking, camping and more.  


The Yadkin Valley Wine Region was established in 2002 as the state's first American Viticultural Area. The area attracted numerous wine producers and is currently home to over 40 vineyards. Raffaldini Vineyards offers an authentic Italian experience without traveling to Europe. Whether you're sampling the delicious vintages or enjoying a traditionally prepared Italian meal, this vineyard will have you feeling that you've been transported to Tuscany. RagApple Lassie Vineyards is a local favorite that offers a spectrum of tasting and activities. You’ll encounter tours of the lush vineyard groups, live concerts on their outdoor stage, and tastings of 13 different wines.


Mount Airy is home to North Carolina’s largest and most well received events. The Autumn Leaves Festival™ is a mainstay in the community returning for a huge 50th anniversary celebration. Held from October 14th to 16th, this family friendly festival is expected to bring over people 200,000 people into Mount Airy. The festival is designed to showcase the region's music, art, and food. The music will be cross genre including bluegrass, gospel, and old time. This year's festival will have over 200 different vendors selling a variety of handmade arts, crafts, and much more. Food options will include all the festival fare favorites, plus plenty of delicious classic Southern dishes. got the chance to interview Festival Director, Yvonne Nichols, to speak about this great festival.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

YN: The festival began as a celebration of the end of the tobacco and apple harvesting seasons over 45 years ago. Now, we celebrate the breathtaking fall season that is upon us. Through the years, hundreds of thousands of visitors (nearly 200,000 people frequent the streets of Mount Airy over the three-day weekend annually) have enjoyed the true flavor of rural America.  They love the town's distinctive character, rich heritage and scenic beauty.


RAL: What makes the event unique?

YN: Our hometown radiates natural beauty with spectacular views bathed in autumn reds and luminous gold’s, set against the Blue Ridge Mountains. The area is particularly beautiful this time of year when there’s still a chance to catch some warm sunshine and the leaves start taking on their brilliant colors. This is a community where the shadows last a little longer, doors open a little wider, conversation carries on and the spirit of our community has a captivating quality on everyone who visits. This great community once again puts out the “WELCOME” mat and invites everyone to come and experience the true spirit of America’s Hometown.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event...what can I expect as an attendee?

YN: This festival showcases our rich musical heritage, with genres such as Old-Time, Bluegrass and Gospel, performed by local musicians on the downtown stage. The unique arts & crafts of more than 200 craftsmen line the streets with many demonstrating their talents and skills. Then there is “Food for the Soul” including ham, biscuits, collards, cornbread, BBQ, hamburgers, ground steak, and more. All the food is served with hospitality by our local civic and other community groups.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

YN: We have a variety of hotels, bed and breakfasts, cabins, campgrounds, etc. For a list go to our tourism website


RAL: Does lodging hit max occupancy during the event?

YN: Yes, however, there are areas outside of Mount Airy that people can stay like Pilot Mountain, Elkin, Hillsville, and Winston-Salem.


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

YN: Yes, absolutely, the economic impact of this event is tremendous at over $8.5 million.


RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community? (School funds, etc.)

YN: Yes, most food vendors are associated with a civic organizations, this is how they make a lot of their funds for the year.

For more information about the Autumn Leaves Festival™, please visit their website.