Oxford sets the standard for small town living

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2024

By Bonnie Brown

Here’s a question for you.  Has Oxford become a “destination town/city?”  In case you’re wondering what constitutes a “destination” I learned that a destination is a place where people will make a special trip to visit.  

Part of what prompted this article was a conversation I had with Nancy Nations who works at Tallahatchie Gourmet Restaurant here in Oxford and she declared that Oxford had become a destination.  It was on a day that wasn’t an event day—no ball games, no performances, nothing special.  Yet, the restaurant was jam-packed, and the town was bustling.  No parking spaces to be had anywhere near The Square.  

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I was thinking about how much Oxford has changed in the last few decades.  We went from sleepy to vibrant.  We went from a one-McDonald’s to a two-McDonald’s quickly.  Then the explosion of Ole Miss enrollment, a four-lane Jackson Avenue, winning athletic teams, a beautiful Performing Arts Center, and many more enhancements to our little burg.  It really didn’t happen overnight, but it seems like it did.  The “bypass” which used to have hardly any traffic has now become a raceway, complete with traffic backups. 

My further thoughts about our little town led me to do some research to see if Oxford was named as a destination on any site.  I found an article published March 3, 2024, by Michael DeFranceschi, a travel blogger, who visited Oxford as part of his travel to Alabama being the 26th state of his travels and then to Mississippi (Oxford) being the 27th state he has visited.   

I was curious about his impressions of Oxford compared to the other 25 states/towns/cities he has visited and about which he has blogged.  He posted several pictures of his visit around Oxford, specifically of Faulkner Alley, Oxford Square & downtown, the mural wall and “Greetings From Oxford” mural, Oxford Water Tower, and Rowan Oak.   

Not one photo of campus—not one!  Nor any mention of Square Books and the significant literary community, except Rowan Oak.   His overall summary was that he found Oxford “a little boring” and of the seven articles he has composed on whether a certain city is worth visiting or not, this is the first article where he’s leaning to “no.”  

It may seem a stretch to classify Oxford as a destination town, but let’s look at a few things that a destination town/city offers.  A festival (Double Decker Arts Festival), sporting events (how about our Ole Miss Athletics), culture and the arts (Gertrude Castellow Ford Center for the Performing Arts, University of Mississippi Museum), and great food.  The list of great culinary establishments is too long for this article.  We all know folks drive from all over to dine in Oxford.   

We are fortunate that our city leaders, including our own Robyn Tannehill, aka “Roundabout Robyn” have had the vision and wisdom to manage growth and development of our hamlet.  We are most fortunate to have excellent law enforcement, fire protection, health care facilities and providers, utilities, public transportation, and employers.  

We are nestled in the hills of north Mississippi where we are setting the standards for small-town living. We celebrate the charm of our town whose residents are always eager to take care of one another and welcome visitors.    

So, yes Nancy, I’d say Oxford is definitely a destination.