More than 60,000 people will venture to the Square this weekend for the 22nd annual Double Decker Arts Festival.
Double Decker is arguably Oxford’s most popular event. Created in 1996, the event was inspired by the Double Decker bus Oxford imported from England in 1994. Since the festival’s beginning, it has demonstrated the great passion Oxford has for the arts and boasted the town’s diverse food and music taste.
During its first year, the festival’s musical artists played in the bed of a pickup truck, and only a few art and food vendors participated in the event.
Now, 166 art vendors, 25 food vendors and 11 musical artists will be featured for a variety of entertainment.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, an award-winning country blues musician, will kick off the festival’s entertainment Friday night, in addition to Thacker Mountain Radio, a live radio show hosting a range of musical performances, as well as author readings.
Oxford Police Department Maj. Jeff McCutchen said traffic preparations for the event will begin early Friday morning.
“We’ll start towing Friday morning and clear North and South Lamar, Van Buren,” McCutchen said. “We’ll basically clear everything off around the Square. All the Square’s access points will be blocked and restricted to traffic.”
The merchandise booth will be located on North Lamar Boulevard in front of the music stage, and the Oxford art demos and sales will be take place on the plaza between City Hall and Square Books, according to Kinney Farris, deputy director of Visit Oxford.
The Double Decker Spring Run is another event happening in unison with the festival on Saturday. A health-oriented events company called Start2Finish joined the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce to host the run. The 5k and 10k runs will start at 7:30 a.m., and the kids fun run at 9 a.m.
“There is a shuttle from Oxford High School, $5 round trip for the Double Decker Run this year, from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. dropping off by Handy Andy,” Farris said. “For the festival, a shuttle will run just like last year from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., dropping off by Something Southern on Jackson Avenue.”
While making many safety preparations for the festival, McCutchen said a rise in underage drinking this weekend is not a huge fear.
“We usually don’t have an issue with that. We usually have good compliance from those that are out, and most act accordingly,” McCutchen said. “We are going to have a lot of officers out monitoring the coming and going of everyone, and everyone is usually pretty respectful.”
Sophomore psychology major Zoe Elizabeth Weiser-Dalton said she is eager for the weekend and is looking forward to tasting the many foods offered on the Square.
“We’re excited to eat good Southern food and explore the Square,” Dalton said. “Everyone comes to Oxford for Double Decker weekend, so I’m hopeful this will be one of the best weekends yet for me and my friends.”