ELLERBE — This small Richmond County town earned a passing reference on a big television show last week.
And that brief mention could bring more customers to one local business.
The town of Ellerbe was mentioned on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” by host Jon Stewart during last Thursday night’s broadcast.
In a story about Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul visiting Iowa, Stewart lampooned the mainstream news coverage suggesting that Paul could be making a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
“Maybe he loves Iowa,” Stewart said. “Got a, got a thing for Strawberry Point, Iowa’s ‘world’s largest strawberry’…which is actually not a real strawberry.”
While joking about the 15-foot strawberry statue, Stewart then said, “Truth is, Ellerbe, North Carolina has the largest fake strawberry.”
Although he didn’t mention it by name, the over-the-shoulder graphic showed a picture of The Berry Patch, owned by Lee and Amy Berry.
“It’s great to hear your small town name on a national television show,” Lee Berry said. “It really made me feel good.”
Berry, who is also the mayor of Ellerbe, said he had no idea “The Daily Show” would mention his small town and was surprised.
“I went to bed about 9 o’clock,” he said. “Amy said about 11:15, my phone started going off.”
Berry said he had friends and neighbors calling to tell him about the shout-out and teasing him about being famous.
Laughing, he said he jokingly told them, “I was famous before he made that little comment.”
Berry said he knew about the other strawberry’s claim of being the world’s largest.
“We do have the bigger of the two,” he said.
Berry said he had several customers come in over the weekend telling him they had seen his business on the Comedy Central show.
“If it brings in five or 10 customers, that’ll be more than I had before,” he said.
But that isn’t the only publicity Berry has received in recent months.
Berry said that a Daily Journal letter to the editor written by Ohio resident Justin Johnson has also helped.
The letter, published last month, detailed Johnson’s car trouble in Ellerbe while en route to Myrtle Beach.
Johnson said that Berry and a man named Donny helped him out by giving him a ride to get gas and giving his car a jump when the battery had died. A state trooper also stopped to offer assistance.
“I was also very curious to learn more about Ellerbe and found it to be a relatively small town compared to anything up here in Ohio,” Johnson wrote. “However, I can bet that this town has more hospitality per square mile than any place I have been here.”
The letter praised Ellerbe for its small-town Southern charm and its abundance of Good Samaritans. Johnson said he looked forward to returning one day and stopping at the Berry Patch.
“I’ll take all the publicity I can get,” Berry said.
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675.