By Errol Castens
OXFORD – If you had a pressing need for a seven-foot cypress alligator or a printed promise of “Free Beer Tomorrow,” downtown Oxford was your place on Saturday.
The 19th annual Double Decker Arts Festival drew tens of thousands of locals and visitors for the day-long immersion into arts, food and music.
Saturday morning started with 10k and 5k Double Decker runs, sponsored by the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce. John Scott ran the 5k with his children Cara, 11, and Rhodes, 10.
“It’s enjoyable to be able to do a lifelong sport at age 46 with your kids,” he said.
The namesake Double Decker bus drew a continual queue for each of its tours of the city and the University of Mississippi campus, and the Square Fair children’s games kept up a stream of squeals. More than 20 food vendors kept the crowd fed.
Music and the arts had the top billings, along with socializing.
“I like the food and the music – I like it all,” said 12-year-old Daymeon Pegues of Oxford.
Frame vendor Adrian Baron-Robbins was disappointed with this year’s music.
“Double Decker used to be a place for a major headliner, maybe a second band almost as good and some good local bands,” he said.
Kinney Ferris of VisitOxford said, however, that even the 10 a.m. concert proved popular.
“We had one of the biggest crowds ever for the opening concert with (local favorite) Morgan Pennington,” she said.
Kathy Lorenzo fell in love with the works of artist Nicole Gladden.
“Every painting tells a story,” Lorenzo said. “You look at first at one picture, and then you see other things and start getting drawn in.”
Mary Beth Mobley said the festival was a chance to find common ground between differing art tastes in her family.
Robbie Robertson said his salvaged-wood creations were drawing browsers but few buyers.
“It’s a good crowd, but I haven’t sold bowls the way I thought I would,” he said.
By contrast, Cindy Cail’s 3D metal art kept her booth mobbed.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “We weren’t here last year, and everybody’s like, ‘You’re back!’”
“My favorite thing was playing with my grandchildren,” Bill Sloan said.
“They were having a ball in the children’s play area,” added his wife, Lynn Sloan.
Tom Creasy of Charlotte, North Carolina, was a first-time visitor to Oxford after learning his son will attend Ole Miss this fall.
“We love Oxford, and if I had an opportunity for a do-over, I’d be coming to Ole Miss instead of Chapel Hill,” he said.