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Today is May 23, 2022

Double Decker Arts Festival

25 years of food, art and music in Oxford

By Steven Ward

Double Decker Arts Festival

To Oxford, the Double Decker Arts Festival is a reunion weekend for friends and families from all over to celebrate all the good things that Oxford has to offer, music, food, and the arts.

The first Double Decker Arts Festival had humble beginnings in 1996 with the bed of an old pickup truck serving as a stage for music while hosting a handful of art and food vendors in Oxford.

Today, the free event is centered around the historic Courthouse Square, and, in recent years, has boasted a crowd of more than 65,000 people.

Following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Double Decker Arts Festival returns April 22 and 23 celebrating its 25th year.

“Originally inspired by the Double Decker bus that Oxford imported from England in 1994, the festival showcases Oxford as a town that supports the arts and has grown to be one of the champion events in the region,” said Lee Ann Stubbs, coordinator of the festival.

The festival will kick-off on Friday with art demonstrations around the Square and music in the evening. Saturday is an all-day affair featuring over 140 art vendors and more than 20 local food vendors while a generous mix of touring musicians take to the stage.

Just some of the musicians playing the festival include, legendary R&B and gospel singer Mavis Staples, New Orleans brass band funkster Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, blues guitarist Samantha Fish, country vocalist Brett Young, and alternative rockers The Revivalists.

The festival’s 2022 presenting sponsor is the University of Mississippi Museum. The Ole Miss Student Activities Association is sponsoring the stage. Other sponsors include NE Sparc, the internet fiber subsidiary of North East Mississippi Electric Power Association. 

Stubbs said a few changes are in store this year.

“This year we will have a larger headliner take the stage Friday night. In the past, we’ve had music on Friday night, but this year, Brett Young will be here, which is a larger act than we have had normally on Friday nights,” Stubbs said.

Stubbs also said it’s possible there won’t be any Double Decker bus rides and tours this year.

“In Oxford, we have four Double Decker buses, but, at the moment, we do not have any that are currently in working condition. We are hopeful that we will have at least one bus running by the festival, but either way, the iconic bus will be on the festival grounds for photo opportunities.”

In 2015, the festival started choosing a local artist to feature as the festival’s offical artist. Their festival art is printed on t-shirts and posters. This year’s festival artist is Hannah McCormick who attended school at the University of Mississippi and has lived in Oxford for more than 15 years. Her artwork was selected for the 2020 festival, which was canceled due to COVID-19. Festival organizers decided to carry over her art for this year’s festival.   

Stubbs said her favorite part of the Double Decker festival is the live music.

“This will be my seventh festival to plan from start to finish, and my favorite part of the day is when the last act goes on stage,” Stubbs said.

“I generally go backstage during this act and look out from the stage into the crowd. Seeing the large crowd and everyone there having fun and enjoying the music and festival gives me complete satisfaction knowing that I helped bring all these people here. It’s a great way to see it go from start to finish.”

The festival has always meant something special to the city of Oxford.

“To Oxford, the Double Decker Arts Festival is a reunion weekend for friends and families from all over to celebrate all the good things that Oxford has to offer, music, food, and the arts,” Stubbs said.

For more information, visit doubledeckerfestival.com or call 662-232-2477.

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