April’s here, and the time is right for dancing in the streets
By Hillary Houston
Well folks, it’s about that time again. Rain or shine, come hell or high water, on April 26 and 27, there will be a Double Decker Arts Festival, Presented by C Spire Wireless.
For the past 18 years, the Oxford Tourism Council and Oxford Convention & Visitors Bureau has put on the event, which has grown into one of the largest events hosted here.
“I think it is the signature spring event for the community,” said Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson.
With an estimated 55,000 attendees, 160 art vendors, and nationally known and up-and-coming music guests, Oxford’s baby is now of voting age, off to college, and finding itself.
“I was on the Tourism Council when we founded Double Decker, and I’ve just seen it grow unbelievably,” said Patterson.
Throughout the years a lot has changed from what the festival once was.
“Double Decker has grown. It’s gotten bigger and bigger, and we’ve changed locations of things,” said Jimmy Phillips, Oxford’s Director of Emergency Services. “It’s a lot of behind the scenes, logistics.”
Whether a Double Decker veteran, or bright-eyed newcomer, one may have some things to learn about this year’s event.
For instance, this year’s Friday night get-down will be free, unlike last year’s admission fee experiment. Friday night kicks off with the Thacker Mountain Radio Show at 6 p.m., followed by the Eric Deaton Trio and Blue Mountain until 9 p.m. All live music will be presented on the festival’s one and only stage on North Lamar. Saturday brings a full lineup, headlined by the Drive-By Truckers, and Sunday wraps things up on a spiritual note with live gospel music.
Another major change for the 2013 Double Decker Festival is the food vendor qualifications. This year, each dish served at the festival must in some way have a local story to tell, providing a “taste of Oxford.”
One new feature many people may not know about is the Double Decker radio broadcast. Festival visitors can tune in to AM 1630 for parking information, directions for handicap parking and off the square parking, traffic information, and information on which roads are closed and open.
Festival set up will start as early as 5 a.m. on Friday for the North Lamar stage, so be aware that some portions of Oxford Square’s streets will be closed as early as Friday morning.
“We’re trying to make it a better experience for everyone,” said Phillips,” and a safe one.”
Festival shuttles will run from the Oxford Conference Center to the Square from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 27. The shuttles run every 15 minutes for $5 a person or free for children under the age of 13.
And speaking of children, there is now a “Meet Me Area” set up by the Emergency Services Department. Whether it is a lost child or simply a designated spot to meet friends and family, the Meet Me Tent can be very helpful.
“It’s great, for when parents and kids do come up here, the parents can say, ‘Look meet me at the Meet Me Area at one o’clock,’” said Phillips. “There’s now a designated spot for that. That’s one of the improvements we’ve made over the years.”
Also, the University of Mississippi’s Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management is partnering with the festival to provide its students event management experience in the children’s Square Fair component of the festival.
Last, but not least, for the first time ever, festival goers will be able to access HottyToddy.com’s Double Decker Guide via their cell phones and other hand-held devices. The guide includes a festival map, a vendor booth index, event schedule, music lineup, artists’ bios, and more. The official Double Decker Guide can be found on HottyToddy.com and on the HottyToddy.com mobile app, downloadable free from your app store.