Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Fringe Festival Reinvented to Keep the Spirit of Ron Shapiro Alive

Image provided by YAC

For the last several years, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council has held its Art-er Limits Fringe Festival each fall to offer the community a sampling of local talent and cultural opportunities in Oxford.

While planning the 2021 fall series of community programs, YAC Director Wayne Andrews said the council wanted a way to honor and remember the late Ron Shapiro, a past board member of the council and Oxford Film Festival and supporter of numerous organizations and the arts.

Shapiro died in August 2019 at the age of 75. Shapiro was also known in the LOU community as the former owner of The Hoka Theatre — the bohemian coffeehouse/movie theater, named after the Chickasaw princess who had once owned the land that would become Oxford. He also owned the Main Squeeze juice bar.

“Ron’s continuous efforts — at the Hoke to the Main Squeeze or while just walking around the Square — encouraged all he encountered to attend art events, check out a band, try new foods, watch an independent film or hear a writer, historian or cultural voice speak,” Andrews said of Shapiro. “Ron’s passion to connect through music, food, literature or a good story inspired us all to think about how those elements contribute to our community.”

The Arts Council decided to reinvent the Fringe Festival and rename it “Hoka Days,” and the community is invited to be a part by either hosting an event or attending the events.

“It is not a celebration of Ron Shapiro but a reminder to keep his spirit alive in the community,” Andrews said. “Support the wild idea, embrace the different, imagine what our community could be like and strive to come together.”

The Arts Council, working with local supporters in memory of Shapiro, is providing grants to community members, artists and organizations to host an event. It can be large or small. It could be an art exhibit, a paint out, a dance on the square, a pop-up concert, a magic show, a book swap or any other event that encompasses the things that Shapiro championed and supported.

“Anything as long as it touches on the core principle of the Hoka Days,” Andrews said.

The event must be free to the public, occur during the month of August and be related to film, music, literature, food or building equity.

A slate of workshops, a free concert, literary events and movies are already planned for August.

The calendar of events will continue to grow as artists and community members submit ideas with grants being awarded every 48 hours.  Artists can submit an idea online at www.oxfordarts.com.


Upcoming Hoka Days Events

Aug. 6
First Friday Poetry Readings
6 p.m.
Cambridge United Methodist Church
Bring your own or share your favorite verse. Light refreshments served.

Good Night Market
6-8 p.m.
Art, music and games
Old Amory Pavilion

Aug. 8

Sunset Concert in The Grove
The Soultones
6 p.m.
Sponsored by Chamber of Commerce, Visit Oxford, University of Mississippi Museum, Student Activities Council, Ford Center and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council

Aug. 12

Oxford Comma Writing Group
7 p.m.
Welcome Back Workshop
The Graduate Hotel – The Coop Rooftop Bar

Aug. 13

Iron Bartender*
7-9 p.m. 
A fundraiser for Hoka Days and does require a ticket to attend – tickets available here! 
Mississippi Bartenders create one-of-a-kind cocktails to win the title of Iron Bartender.

Aug. 24

Art Crawl
6-8 p.m.
Free tour of community art spaces
Hosted by University Museum, Southside Art Gallery, the Powerhouse Community Arts Center, Uptown Coffee and the University of Mississippi Art Department

Aug. 27

Movies in the Park
8 p.m.
Join us for a free movie at Avent Park. Bring a blanket and enjoy movies under the stars with friends.
Hosted by Oxford Park Commission

Aug. 30

Records due for Fuster Record Show; turn in records at the Powerhouse