A few days ago, one of Oxford’s largest and highly regarded festivals was officially moved to August 14-15 because of COVID-19. The event reports drawing over 65,000 event goers who flock to the music, art and food vendors.
Double Decker Arts Festival was set to celebrate its 25th Anniversary but was forced to postpone because of the pandemic. The postponement is to benefit the Oxford community rather than cancelling it, according to festival organizers.
Joe Austin from the band Joe Austin & The Tallahatchies who will be performing at Double Decker for the first time, said that the current pandemic has made it difficult for his band to perform and that they are facing a lot of cancellations due to public health safety concerns.
“It is definitely a big event for us,” Austin said. “We love our town and getting to be a part of Double Decker is something we’ve wanted for a while now.”
Austin said that in his experience it’s easy to get caught up in the panic of the pandemic, but his band is taking this situation to work on things they usually don’t have time to accomplish.
“Let’s take a deep breath, and we’re gonna get through this,” Austin said. “It’s gonna be difficult for a little while but we’re gonna make it. A lot of times (the band doesn’t) get the opportunity to have this much time to focus towards the writing and things of that nature…in the same aspect, it’s just I’m ready to get back to performing as well.”
Also performing for the first time at Double Decker, singer Maggie Rose said she was expecting the festival to be postponed because of the pandemic.
“I think everyone’s just trying to take an abundance of caution,” Rose said. “There’s something really sacred about (the festival) and being a part of it. But we’ll just have to wait a little bit longer for that to come to fruition, have faith that it will happen.”
Ferris said later in the statement that those involved in putting the festival together are concerned for the hospitality industry in Oxford. She stated that their main focus is promoting the industry as the community comes out of the COVID-19 crisis.
In a statement released by Double Decker, festival coordinator Lee Ann Stubbs said the decision was made after consideration with all of those involved with the event and booked to perform at the event. This included festival vendors, the Student Activities Association, city officials and local business owners.
“We want to be good stewards of the funds that had already been raised to put on this year’s festival,” Stubbs said in the statement. “We also want to give the local and university communities something to look forward to when, hopefully, this is all over.”
Later in the statement, Stubbs explained that if a vendor was unable to participate in the new date for the festival, they would be receiving a refund and their vacant space will be replaced with a vendor on their waitlist.
“Double Decker Arts Festival is vitally important to the economy of our community; we are dedicated to doing all we can to promote Double Decker in August this year rather than April,” executive director of Visit Oxford Kinney Ferris said in the statement.