Friday, March 5, 2021

2021 Double Decker Arts Festival Canceled Due to COVID-19

The 2021 Double Decker Arts Festival has been cancelled, Visit Oxford announced Tuesday.

Due to ongoing restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, and with continued concerns for the safety and health of all involved, the Double Decker Arts Festival will not occur in its traditional form on April 23-24.

The decision to cancel is based on the nature of the event, which draws tens of thousands of people to the downtown Square for concerts, shopping and arts, all within one weekend.

This is the second year in a row that festival organizers have had to cancel the annual event.

Currently, the Mississippi Governor has issued an executive order that limits the number of people allowed to gather.

“While we know that these executive orders and restrictions may change between now and April 23, we don’t feel that there will be enough of a shift to allow us to host an event of this magnitude, safely,” said Visit Oxford Executive Director Kinney Ferris. “We do feel it best to support other events throughout the community that are of a smaller scale that can promote our unique food, music and arts scenes.”

The 25th anniversary of the Double Decker Arts Festival was originally scheduled to take place April 24-25, 2020, but with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, festival organizers tried to postpone to August 14-15, 2020. As the pandemic continued, the production team was forced to cancel the 2020 festival altogether.

While organizers hoped that the original dates of for 2021 would still hold true, guidance from emergency management, city and state leadership, and feedback from festival organizers worldwide proved that it would not be safe to host such a large event.

Music festivals and large-scale events are still deeply impacted by the pandemic exemplified by the cancellation of the 2021 Beale Street Music Festival as well as the postponement of the 2021 New Orleans Jazz Festival and the 2021 Hangout Fest.

“We all are eager to gather together again and celebrate all that Oxford offers,” said Double Decker Arts Festival Coordinator Lee Ann Stubbs. “The health of the public, as well as that of the people who work together to pull off this celebration, remain the top concern and have guided us to this decision.

“With musicians not touring as normal, crowds not allowed to gather, and the rollout of the vaccine still in the beginning phase, we felt that we could not deliver the experience that fans have grown accustomed to with Double Decker. We want the 25th anniversary to be the biggest and best yet, and we will plan for just that in Spring 2022.”

Working alongside the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, the Double Decker Arts Festival and Visit Oxford will continue to host more outdoor, smaller events similar to “Tunes Around Town,” “Sounds on the Square” and “Holly Jolly Holidays.”

Staff report