Festival a success for city, retailers alike

Published 4:35 pm Friday, May 5, 2023

Strong sales, no safety issues reported from Double Decker

Despite brief showers, the 26th annual Double Decker Arts Festival last weekend on the Oxford Square drew an estimated 80,000 people downtown during the two-day event.

Officials this week began processing data from merchandise sales, hotel reservations, and information from vendors and local merchants, and will use the information to gauge the festival’s economic impact on the city and Lafayette County.

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“Because the festival is free and there’s not one entrance location, it’s nearly impossible to determine an accurate number of attendees,” said Kinney Ferris, executive director of Visit Oxford.

Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said this year’s festival was one of the best ever. “It was an enormous success due to the hard work of our Visit Oxford Dream Team, as well as our Environmental Services Team, OPD, OFD, Building and Groundsteam and many volunteers,” she said. “We cannot thank our sponsors enough who make Double Decker possible. And thank you Oxford, for supporting the best festival in Mississippi.”

North Lamar Boulevard was shut down early Friday morning to install the Nicholas Air mainstage that served as the music mainstay all weekend. Music started Friday night with Auburn-based The Stews, followed by Mississippi natives Chapel Hart. The headliner Friday night was Grammy-winning country artist Ashley McBryde, who sang to an estimated 15,000 people.

Early Saturday morning the entirety of the square was shut down to vehicular traffic as more than 150 art vendors loaded in to set up their booths. More than 25 states were represented in data collected by festival organizers as people traveled from all around the country.

Jeff Busby, square merchant and owner of University Sporting Goods,  said, “I’ve been a part of Double Decker since it started in 1996 and this year was by far, the best year for retail sales for a Double Decker weekend. The festival is such a great event and has a tremendous impact on the economy of Oxford.”

Oxford Police Chief Jeff McCutchen said this year’s event was also among the safest. “We saw large crowds throughout the weekend but no public safety issues. It was one of the best atmospheres that I’ve worked in 18 years of past Double Decker festivals.”

Festival director Lee Ann Stubbs said, “we were thrilled to have such a great turnout for this year’s festival. Last year’s festival was such a record-breaker, but this year’s was just as successful. We had more sponsors than ever which is tremendous to see our community support this event, but we also had more art and food vendors than ever before.”

The planning for next year’s Double Decker has already begun, and April 26-27 will be the 2024 event dates for the 27th Annual Double Decker Arts Festival.