OXFORD – A year after tornadic weather threatened its cancellation but instead created a serendipitous split schedule, elbow-to-elbow crowds thronged the Oxford Square for the city’s signature arts event.
The Double Decker Festival this year began Friday evening with concerts that culminated with headliners Old Crow Medicine Show. On Saturday, the arts market shared attention with two stages of local music acts, including the North Mississippi All-Stars.
Regardless of the schedule, Double Decker – named for the city’s open-top English tour buses – was “Oxford’s block party.”
For Charlene Dye, a former Oxonian visiting from New Paltz, N.Y., it was a way to reconnect with old friends.
“I miss Oxford, and Double Decker is a great chance to see all the people I know,” she said. “I couldn’t get in touch with all of them any other way.”
For John and Shelia Lance of Ackerman, walking the Square was a way to reconnect with family.
“All our kids are in school here, so we’re up here spending the day with our kids,” John Lance said. “That, and there’s so much great food. We really like the hamburgers at Irie’s.”
Chairmaker Greg Harkins of Vaughn was one of the scores of vendors enticing shoppers at Double Decker.
“The chair business is slow these days, like everything else, but the Double Decker has proven to be just like the Double Decker has always been for me,” he said. “My sales have been real good; the response has been real good. I’ve passed out harkinschairs.com cards to 500 or 600 people.”
Jo and Marvin Smith of Marshall, Ark., were selling pottery and wooden kitchen gadgets.
“This is our fourth year here,” Jo Smith said. “It’s done well for us.”
Pam Swain of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce was pleased with the split schedule. Previously everything was in one day.
“By having the headliner concert on Friday night, people were able to do something great on the Square, get up Saturday morning and complete a race … and then to come down here and spend the afternoon shopping and listening to more music,” Swain said. “That gives people a little bit of downtime, maybe, to rest and still fit it all in.”
One of the last-minute additions to the Double Decker was a donation station for the Red Cross tornado relief fund.
“It’s incredibly affirming to sit here and watch one person after another for hours dig into their pockets,” said volunteer Wright Thompson. “It makes me feel good about people today.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal Oxford Bureau