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Double Decker draws early, large crowds

Derek Giles held up the foot-long hotdog, exclaiming, “Holy moly this is huge!”

Giles, 9, and his family were visiting friends in Oxford from Yazoo City. It was the first time they’ve been to the Double Decker Arts Festival – and as far as Derek was concerned – the festival was “awesome.”

The festival started at 10 a.m. On the Square. By 10:30, there was little walking room near the artist tents along South Lamar Boulevard.

Artist Joy Pfefferkorn, formally known to many in Oxford as Martha Joy Smith, sold two of her pastel paintings within the first hour of the festival.

She now lives in Dallas, Texas, but grew up in Oxford. It’s the second time she’s shown her work at the Double Decker festival.

“I’m inspired by nature,” she said while sitting in her booth in front of City Hall Saturday. “A lot of it comes from growing up here – running along the river banks and being outside all the time.”

Her colorful paintings depict places she’s visited around the work, including Russia and Columbia.

“These are all from places I’ve been and things I’ve seen,” she said of her artwork.

Before the events on the Square started, 1,504 people took part in the annual Double Decker Spring Run 10K and 5K races. Chad Berry from Madison came in first place for the 10K race in the men’s category and overall, completing the race in 35:01 minutes. Meggan Franks of Starkville came in first place in the women’s category for the 10K race. Her time was 38:50.

In the 5K race, Graham Farnsworth of Memphis came in first for the men with a time of 16:52 minutes. For the women, the winner was Taylor Corder of Corinth with a time of 19:24 minutes.

Just as the festival started, the Oxford-Lafayette County Humane Society held it’s annual fundraiser, the Best Dressed Dog contest where 12 dogs and their owners sported fancy costumes and tried to win over judges.

Fancy, a 2-year-old labradoodle, was dressed an Ole Miss Rebel cheerleader for the contest. It was the first time she was in the competition; however, Fancy didn’t win.

“She’s very upset she didn’t win,” said her owner, Jerry Anne Davis of Water Valley. “She did great though. She got up there and jumped around.”

The tens of thousands of people attending the festival Saturday shopped, ate and visited with friends and family as music coming from the Ole Miss Student Activities Association stage on the north side of the Square filled the air. Performing Saturday were Sharde Thomas, Como Mamas, Don Bryant, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Tank and the Bangas.

Around noon, the lines in front of the food vendors grew long as tummies started to rumble.

Rick Leslie, operational manager of Mesquite Chop House, said people were buying their prime rib and crab cake sliders as early as 10 a.m.

“We wanted to offer something a little different,” Leslie said.

Leslie said the decision to take part in Double Decker was an easy one.

“We’re part of Oxford and this is an important day for Oxford,” he said. “We want to take an active role in our community.”

Behind the stage on North Lamar in the parking lot of the Chancery Building, the Kids’ Fair delighted hundreds of children who spent their morning climbing a rock tower, spinning in a gyrosphere or bouncing around in one of three bouncy houses.

Griffy and her friend Hayden enjoyed their turn on gyrosphere; although they thought the ride should be faster.

“It’s kind of slow,” said Hayden, 12, who attends Oxford Intermediate School.

Griffy, who attends Oxford University School, said her favorite part of Double Decker was enjoying the sunshine and looking at all the art under the tents.

“It’s fun just to walk around and see everything going on,” Hayden said.