Vendor committee says most applicants have risen to its challenge
By Tad Wilkes, Nightlife & Lifestyles Editor
The Double Decker Arts Festival Presented by C Spire Wireless has taken a new tact in selecting and approving food vendors for the 2013 event, to be held April 26 and 27 in Oxford. The application process and criteria required have caused some initial confusion and frustration for some restaurateurs, but the net result will be a win for the festival and Oxford, said John T. Edge, a member of the Double Decker Food Vendor Committee.
“The Tourism Council asked us to develop a process to improve food at Double Decker,” said Edge, whose appointment to the committee certainly was not at random. His day job is as director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and he’s the author or editor of more than 10 books, including the foodways volume of the New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Cornbread Nation: the Best of Southern Food Writing, and Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover’s Companion to the South. The new vendor criteria, Edge said, are aimed at developing the food component of the Double Decker fest into more than just an afterthought.
“The idea was to curate a roster of vendors to serve dishes that prove as much a draw as the music,” he explained.
One of the committee’s inspirations was the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, where the foods reflect the peoples, places, and ingredients of Louisiana.
“We’re working toward an Oxford version of that ideal,” Edge said. “And we’re encouraging vendors to source local ingredients for dishes. Buying locally grown ingredients, as we all now know, drives local economies.”
The culture shock some applicants have felt at first is worth the growing pains, Edge believes.
“Any change comes with challenges,” he said. “It’s been very gratifying to see the great majority of applicants embrace the idea and rise to the challenge. To date, no applicants have been denied, even though some did not even attempt to address the new guidelines. The reality is we had more applicants than we have vendor slots. If we’re going to curate the vendor roster, we’ll be forced to say no to some vendors, just as art curators accept and reject artists for a group gallery show.”
“We’re excited about supporting a dynamic and entertaining program like the Oxford Double Decker Arts Festival that combines the charm of Oxford with a first-class event that focuses on the region’s best in music, food, and the arts,” said Jim Richmond, vice president of Corporate Communications for C Spire Wireless, earlier this year.
The 18th annual Oxford Double Decker Arts Festival presented by C Spire Wireless will be held on Friday evening, April 26 and all day Saturday April 27, 2013. For an event schedule, click here.