The Earle Theater was built in 1938 by Earl Q. Benbow and Percy A. Boone. A lot of history comes with this theater that is located in downtown Mt. Airy, NC It was chosen as a site to premier Gone With The Wind simultaneously with the showing in Atlanta, Ga. It operated as a movie theater until it closed in 1985. In 1990, Carmike donated the building to The Surry Arts Council. The theater underwent some much needed improvements and reopened under it’s original name The Earle Theater showing $1.00 movies. The Old Time Music Heritage Hall moved in, in September of 2011 and is still there today. Every Saturday you will find various bluegrass musicians playing at the Earle. It’s a wonderful place to watch a movie or see some great local bluegrass musicians. Recently they have had some notable bluegrass musicians come to the Earle to play. In February my husband and I are going to see The Earls of Leicester here at the Earle.
The radio station WPAQ 740 AM broadcasts their weekly show form the Earle. It is the second longest running live radio show, The Grand Ole Opry being the first. The live show begins at 11:00 a.m. and ends at 1:30 every Saturday. There is a $6.00 admission charge or free with a Surry Arts Council season pass or a $20.00 merry- go-round annual pass. There are local jam sessions after the live radio show on Saturday and on Thursday at 7:00. The jam sessions on Thursdays are free. I often see bluegrass players in front of the Earle on Saturday practicing for their time on stage. You may find more information at Surry County Music.com.
The downtown area has a lot of great shops to explore. There is still a hardware store here along with several clothing stores, some wonderful antique stores, a candy store, a few book store/coffee shops, a couple of fabric stores, a toy store, a few furniture stores and several gift stores. There is plenty of public parking to be found on the main street or in the public parking areas that are close by. For the history buffs, The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History also located on N. Main Street is another great place to visit while you are here. . My mother-in-law often talks about the stores that used to be on main street where they were located and what is there now in their place. It seems a lot has changed for the downtown area. Hopefully it will continue to thrive and will bring many visitors to this area so they may find “Mayberry” too. To be Continued…….