From the festival’s humble beginnings as a mere stage held on the bed of an old pickup truck to a wide-ranging annual celebration of the arts that brings together around an average 60,000 people each year, the Double Decker Arts Festival remains one of Oxford’s staple showcases of music, food and fine arts.
The 2023 Double Decker Arts Festival proved to be a memorable one due to a strong group of performers taking the North Lamar stage and over 100 gifted artists blanketing the Square with their creations. This year’s festivities mark the second year following COVID-19 and 21st year overall.
To kick off Double Decker on Friday evening, a crowd gathered around the historic Courthouse Square to view art demonstrations and enjoy a mix of touring musicians, including renowned country musician Ashley McBryde.
One of McBryde’s spectator’s was Double Decker attendee Tasha Lemley, who claims McBryde is more vocally impressive in person than on country radio.
“Ashley McBryde is amazing,” Lemley said. “Her voice is more amazing in person than it is on the radio.”
Senior Ann Farrell from Mobile, Ala. was particularly excited to see The Stews, an indie band that opened for McBryde, hit the stage. She cites her favorite part of the festival to be the live music.
“It’s the music because we have such big artists who come in for free,” Farrell said.
Direct support for McBryde was country girl-group Chapel Hart. Junior exercise science major Annaka Shumpert shared that she was particularly excited to see the Mississippi group because she followed their journey on “America’s Got Talent.” However, Shumpert revealed that her favorite part of the Double Decker Arts Festival is the sheer ambiance.
“It’s always fun to just see all the families and everybody walking around and hanging out,” Shumpert said.
Though Shumpert grew up in nearby Tupelo, Miss., she admitted that she had only started going to Double Decker once she came to college.
Similarly to Shumpert, allied health studies major Haley Conerly shared that she was also most excited for Chapel Hart. Conerly, too, enjoys the human aspect of Double Decker. In a discussion with the Daily Mississippian, Conerly recounted what she loved most about last year’s festival.
“I loved all the vendors and all the food and the music – it was really nice,” Conerly said.
On Saturday, the event kicked off bright and early with the annual Double Decker races and best dressed pet contest followed by a full day of art displays, local food, and lively concerts. The Main Stage on North Lamar featured a variety of music, from Southern Avenue’s joyful blues harmonies to Marcus King’s heartfelt rock ‘n’ roll.
All weekend long, from Friday, April 28 to Saturday, April 29, the festival drew in large crowds, despite precipitation putting a damper on the sunshine for the final day – proving that rain or shine, there is a dedication to Double Decker that attendees are not willing to give up.