MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A weekend tribute to Morgantown native Don Knotts could be the beginning of an annual celebration of the actor and comedian in his hometown.
It begins Saturday with the unveiling of a sculpture of the former performer.
“There’s more to Don Knotts than just Barney Fife. That was really stressed upon from the family. Show Don as Don, not one of his characters. I think that’s what’s going to be really nice about the statue,” said Cindy Coffindaffer Colasante, Director of Marketing and Visitor Services for the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
Jamie Lester, the sculptor, depicts Knotts seated right off of High Street in downtown Morgantown.
“It’s in front of the Metropolitan Theatre and that as well is unique because Don performed at the Met theatre a couple of times,” noted Colasante.
The unveiling is scheduled for 10 a.m.
The late Morgantown High graduate would have turned 92 Thursday. He passed away February 24, 2006. Knotts’ daughter Karen Knotts, also a comedian, will take the stage following the statue reveal with a show that could give guests a little more insight about her normally rather shy and humble father.
“Her show is called Tied Up in Knotts and it’s basically her comedic rendition of growing up as the daughter of Don Knotts, this Hollywood icon and comedic figure,” Colasante added.
Karen Knotts begins her free performance at 11:30 a.m. on the stage where her father once performed.
Don Knotts played Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show from 1960 to 1965. He starred in films like The Shakiest Gun in the West, The Apple Dumpling Gang and How to Frame a Fig. Knotts had roles in the sitcom Three’s Company and with fellow Andy Griffith on Matlock.
“I think people would be would really be surprised to know how many folks we actually get calls from on a monthly/yearly basis inquiring about Don Knotts. I think now that there is something really tangible for people to come and see, I really thing we’re going to get a lot of those fans traveling to Morgantown,” anticipated Colasante.
Knotts homestead is no longer standing. Two Morgantown city streets, Don Knotts Blvd. and Fife St., are named for the WWII veteran and WVU graduate.
The West Virginia Regional History Collection includes Don Knotts memorabilia that will be displayed at the theatre.
From noon until 3 Saturday, Morgantown History Museum will host a reception for the Don Knotts: MEMORIES exhibit.
“We’re hoping this will give us the momentum that we’ve wanted for several years to begin a Don Knotts festival, kind of a spinoff from the Mayberry Days that they have in Mount Airy,” Colasante said.
The inaugural Don Knotts Celebration Weekend wraps up Sunday with a meet and greet with Karen Knotts at the city history museum from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.