Celebrating 20 Years of the Double Decker Arts Festival
Text by Morgan Pruitt
When people think of Oxford, Mississippi, their thoughts usually turn to Ole Miss, Saturdays in the Grove, museums and historic monuments, and unique boutiques and delicious local eateries. However, Oxford is also home to the annual Double Decker Arts Festival, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary April 24-25.
The award-winning festival pays homage to the two double-decker buses that have come to be a familiar sight around Oxford since they were imported from England in 1994. For the past 20 years, the event has attracted thousands of visitors; over 60,000 guests are expected to attend the 2015 Double Decker Arts Festival. Visit Oxford Director Mary Allyn Hedges says, “The festival showcases Oxford as a town that supports the arts and has grown to be one of the champion events in the region.”
No Southern party would be complete without great food and the Double Decker Arts Festival will not disappoint. Local vendors will be on hand serving everything from snow cones to roast beef sandwiches to pizza.
Works by over 150 artists will be on display. Featured talent in this year’s festival includes Celeste Lamb, Jack Catlette and Carolyn Watson. Regulated by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, the artist showcase includes a variety of pieces including handmade crafts, drawings, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography and sculpture.
Even the youngest members of the family will enjoy the weekend. Kids of all ages are welcome to join the fun at the Square Fair, where activities will be provided by the University of Mississippi Hospitality Management Department.
Festival organizers seek to showcase talented local performing groups along with the area’s best fine arts. The Graduate Hotel Stage on North Lamar Boulevard will be the site of a full slate of entertainment Friday evening, including a special live edition of Thacker Mountain Radio, and all day Saturday. The line-up for Friday evening includes:
6 p.m. – Water Liars
7 p.m. – Thacker Mountain Radio Hour with guest authors Greg Isles and Jamie Brickhouse, along with musicians Water Liars and Reverend Wilkins.
8 p.m. – Reverend Wilkins
Saturday’s schedule features:
10:15 a.m. – Greater Pyrenees
11:30 a.m. – Daniel Karlish Trio
1:00 p.m. – Kenny Brown
2:30 p.m. – Marcela and Her Lovers
4:00 p.m. – Elliot Root
5:30 p.m. – St. Paul and the Broken Bones
7:00 p.m. – JJ Grey and the Mofro
8:30 p.m . – Trampled by Turtles
Local artist Frank Estrada created this year’s Double Decker Arts Festival poster with all aspects of the event in mind. Says the artist, “I wanted to have the courthouse in it. Looking at previous designs I don’t think the courthouse has been included. Music plays a big part of the festival so I wanted to include a stage as well.” Estrada’s work encompasses the festival extraordinarily, with its vibrant colors and aspects of the event packaged into one piece.
Oxford is home to a variety of other notable attractions worth seeing after a visit to the festival. Take in the University of Mississippi Museum’s “Our Faith Affirmed” exhibit, which features works of African American folk art from the Gordon W. Bailey Collection. Browse at Square Books, voted the “Best Bookstore in the Nation” by Publishers Weekly. Follow the footsteps of famed author William Faulkner on the Bailey’s Woods Trail, a National Recreation Trail.
For more information on the Double Decker Arts Festival, visit doubledeckerfestival.com.