Friday, May 4, 2012

Booths vs. Businesses

Despite changes to stage locations, the 17th Annual Double Decker Festival drew in record crowds of 55,000.

“We made some changes to the layout because we'd noticed in year's past that (pedestrian) traffic flow around the vendors had become and issue,” said Mary-Kathryn Herrington, the director of tourism for Oxford Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).

The stage on South Lamar was moved to Van Buren Avenue and reduced in size from last year’s event, mainly to allow more room for vendors, opening access between booths, said Mark Huelse, a member of Oxford Downtown Council.

This also allowed more emphasis on the main North Lamar stage, Huelse said.

The main stage on North Lamar, hosted bands such as Iron and Wine and Deer Tick, while the smaller stage on Van Buren Avenue hosted local bands such as Young Buffalo.

“We wanted to go with some different kinds of staging and improve the appearance of the main stage but still offer local music a place to be showcased,” Herrington said. “After considering several options this seemed to work best. We got tons of positive feedback on it.”

By:Asheleigh Davis

Thomas Monaghan attendee of the festival said that he would like to see Double Decker incorporate the performances of bigger and smaller bands, leading to equal crowds at both stages.

Jessica Brouckaert, first time attendee at the festival, said that she didn’t think the crowds were too overwhelming.

“I thought the layout made it easy to walk around, and I didn’t have a problem at all getting to all the booths,” Brouckaert said.

Huelse said some food vendors where denied this year, because CVB gave priority to local Oxford, tax paying establishments.

There were about 165 art vendors and 22 food vendors, Herrington said.

With more room to walk between booths, this also allowed for the bus to run its route through the Square more easily.

The area seemed to be a lot more open, with the one stage on North Lamar, and pushed further back, said Chief of Police Mike Martin.

The Double Decker Bus has driven through the Square every year, but there was discussion of keeping it out of the square for crowd safety issue. “But, in the end, it is hard to have a Double Decker festival with out a Double Decker bus,” Huelse said.

It has been running the same route through the Square since the festival started, and I am sure it will continue to do so. [They] just have to go slow and be careful,“ Martin said.

OPD places officers on foot patrol for the duration of the festival for safety of attendees. Foot patrol officers are supplement by the Mounted Patrol Division (horses) at night.

Overall, we had no major issues at all during the two days of the festival,” Martin said.

Great Double Decker event.  Everyone seemed to be in a great mood, and having a great time, in a safe environment,” Huelse said. “You could feel the positive energy around the Square, what and awesome day for a very special city.”

For more information, visit, or follow them on Twitter @visitoxfordms.

Double Decker: An Artist’s Destination Weekend

By: Crosby Butler

In a 10 by 10 foot tent, on South Lamar, hung a painting by Judy Seay, one of the many artists featured at this year’s Double Decker Arts Festival in Oxford. The painting depicted two flags hanging over the doors of The Library, one of Oxord’s most beloved bars. The glowing lights coming from the building lit the empty streets of the Square, underneath an acrylic night sky that would bring a shine to even Van Gogh’s eyes.

Seay is an art teacher at Prosper High School, in Prosper, Texas, a small town about a half hour away from Dallas-Ft. Worth airport. Her unique style, and her ability to craft her work to highlight the wonders of Oxford, and Ole Miss, made her booth successful for the last two years. “I walked around for an hour looking in every tent, trying to find her booth,” said Andrew Anderson, a senior at Ole Miss. “I finally saw a massive crowd surrounding one of the tents. Sure enough, that was it.” He said he ended up getting his Mother’s Day shopping out of the way a few weeks early that weekend, and bought two plates.

This year, one patron strolled up and down South Lamar, and upon one of her many trips, said, “I’ve been past this tent five times already and haven’t been able to so much as see inside.” For much of the day, there was a seemingly endless clutter of people around Seay’s booth.

“What makes her work so special and successful is that it’s different than anything else around,” said Oxford resident, and former owner of Oxford Floral Co., Bette Butler. “We had some things that resembled her work, but it’s definitely got its own personality. If it were like everything else, it wouldn’t be a commodity. But it is, and it’s great. If I was still running OFC, I’d be interested in selling her work in the store.”

The artist Henry Ward Beecher once said, “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” And her soul is exactly what goes into her work, Seay said.

“Selling my work is so difficult for me. Most of the time, my work is made for someone specific; someone I love,” she said. From the time she started creating art, continuing through the present, she says that her art has always been created from within, an outward expression of the inward emotions running through her. “My parents were so young, and they struggled so much to just get by. Art was my salvation,” she said. “Through art, I could create my own world.”

Today, the art she creates reflects what she loves: her home state of Texas, and the college that her children attended, the University of Mississippi. Last year, her paintings featured sites from around the city of Oxford; City Grocery, Neilson’s, the Double Decker bus. This year she featured The Library, Ajax, Colonel Rebel and the Yellow Rose of Texas. After bringing a countless number of boxes to the event, she says that “[her] leftovers all fit into one box.” She said that she was surprised at how many people were willing to buy her artwork.

Her road to Double Decker was much more of an emotional rollercoaster compared to the other featured artists. At one point, she checked the Double Decker website to find out if she had made the list, only to find her name missing. A week later, Mayor Patterson confirmed that it was a mistake, and that she was, in fact, in Double Decker. “I worry about the weather. I worry that no one will buy my work. I worry that my students will be bratty while I’m gone,” Seay said. She also stated, however, that her greatest fear is rejection, which made it sweeter to realize that she did make it the first year, and that she was invited back for a consecutive year.

Last year, after selling out of the majority of her work by 3 p.m., she went out to dinner with her family, but on the way back to Texas, began her preparation for this year. “I made note on the way back from Double Decker to make more Ole Miss pottery for this year.” She planned to create and sell at least the same amount of work, but had a better feel of how much of each product might sell. After making around $8,000 last year, she came away with a $9,000 profit, again, this year.

Her daughter, Jessica, who is a senior at Ole Miss this year was excited that her mother was invited back, and equally excited about the success she had. “It’s always so nice to see her and the artwork that she’s done,” she said. Judy, her husband, David, and her children helped out at her booth this year; as Seay puts it, “It’s a family project.” After all, according to her, that’s what her art, her heart, is all about.

Booths vs. Businesses

By: Ashleigh Davis

Booths vs. Businesses

Oxford Double Decker Bus

By: Gabriella Zanengo

Riding Around Oxford

By:Gabriella Zanengo

The average Oxford, Miss. resident may not typically enjoy driving 15 mph on a main road. Unless, of course, it is while driving behind the big, red, double decker bus, as it carries history buffs through the town.

The Double Decker Bus is a two-level bus that was purchased by former  Oxford Mayor John Leslie from England, in 1994, according to the Oxford Convention and Visitor Bureu (CVB). The bus has been the featured centerpiece for the 18th-annual Double Decker Festivals in Oxford, Miss. Riding the bus has become a popular attraction for many Oxford visitors, residents and unversity students.

“The Bus serves almost as a mascot for the town,” said Susan Sherrill, a Double Decker patron from Nashville. “How many other places can someone take a historic tour of a small town on a double decker bus?” she said, as she watched the bus drive by from her seat atop the porch at Boure.

Sherrill would like to take a bus tour but finds it difficult with such long lines during the festival. “I enjoy watching others ride the bus, especially seeing the faces of chilren who sit up top.”  Said Sherrill.

Oxford CVB began offering historical tours in August of 2010. Guided by Jack Mayfield, tours highlight much of what Oxford has to offer. Sites such as the Oxford Square, The L.Q.C. Lamar House, Rowan Oak, the Uniersity of Mississippi campus, and many other notable locations.

Tours leave from the Square, in front of Skipwith Cottage Visitors Center, and last over an hour.

“Taking the bus tour is one of those things you should do before you graduate,” said senior Dietetics and Nutrition major, Lauren Steele.

Many students feel the same way as Steele. Danielle Guilio, a junior at the University of Mississippi, is looking forward to taking a bus tour in the future. “The thought hadn’t crossed my mind until the week before the festival.” Said Guilio.  “Seeing the longs lines (for the bus tour) at  Double Decker, and hearing all of my friends who are graduating talk about the missed opportunity, makes me want to see a side of Oxford that I have yet to experience.”

The Double Decker bus not only gives tours, but is also available for private rental.

“I enjoy the thought of having a piece of Oxford’s history be a part of my future,” said Sara Grantham, who plans to use the bus as a part of her wedding festivities. Grantham said that the bus is reasonably priced, especially for the service that it offers to her large bridal and grooms party. 

“I think the bus cost me about $200 for two hours,” said Grantham, about renting the bus for her wedding. “My mom has really taken over the planning and she couldn’t believe what a great deal it was.”

“My parents are probably the biggest fans of the Double Decker Bus.” Said Sarah Siebert, a University of Mississippi faculty member and Oxford resident. “When they retired to Oxford they already knew some of the history of the town, but they were looking for more and something that offered that to them was the Double Decker Tour.”

The Double Decker Bus Tour brings together tourists, students, and residents as well. For more information on the double decker bus, visit, or call (662)232-2477. 

Double Decker: More than just Art

By: Katie Ridgeway 
During the day, children with tigers painted on their faces, swivel their miniature hips in front of the stage. At night, thousands crowd the edges of the square to see faces of Mavis Staples, Iron and Wine and Young Buffalo. Bands that are dancing on the edge of mainstream stardom, as well as legends in blues and jazz have hit the stages of the Double Decker Arts Festival every Spring for the past seventeen years.
            Although most of the musicians are regional, there are some instances where artists outside of this realm grace the stage.
            The arts festival has run the same bands as some larger music festivals like Bonnaroo and Wakarusa. These festivals house thousands of people for music and camping for an extended weekend. While Double Decker may cater to different audiences, they do bring in similar artists like Colour Revolt, B.B. King and The Avett Brothers.
            “I've always been a huge fan of B.B. King and a couple years ago I got to see him play at Double Decker and then in 2008, I was able to see him a Bonnaroo. It was great to see him in both types of venues, but I think I liked him more at Double Decker. You can see some bigger names and still have an intimate experience with the artist,” Ole Miss student, Justin Sanders said.
            People often overlook Oxford’s eclectic music, art and writing scene. Many times it can be overshadowed by the college commotion of the Ole Miss Campus.
            “There are other areas of Mississippi that produce great art and of course, the Delta is known for their blues, but I can't think of another town in Mississippi that is more artistically inclined than Oxford,” Ole Miss student, Zack Grossenbacher said.
 Despite it’s small population, Oxford has continued to find the means to attract headlining artists to Double Decker.
            Mary Kathryn Herrington, the Director of Tourism and Marketing at the Oxford Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, is put in charge of making sure the Double Decker Music and Arts Festival continues to uphold their standard for musicians.
            “To bring in bands, we use a company called Quiddity Entertainment. We work with them to find acts that are touring, that are within our budget and possibly might be on our area or fit well with Double Decker,” said Herrington “It is sort of like putting a puzzle together!”
            This is not how lineups for music festivals were always arranged. In the recent past, restaurants and the tourism council were responsible for booking entertainment. Quiddity Entertainment, a company based out of Chattanooga, TN, are becoming necessities in the fast-paced, technology-driven society we live in.
            Most music festivals have musicians that spend their entire summer playing in festivals and touring together in the same shows.
            Oxford American Magazine hosted the stage on Van Buren Ave, which featured local artists like Young Buffalo Saturday afternoon.
            “I missed Young Buffalo,” sophomore public policy major Zack Grossenbacher said. “I was really looking forward to them, but I know they will play in town again.”
            Once the evening cooled, the legendary Mavis Staples hit the Caterpillar Main Stage. “We were so pleased to have a legend like Mavis Staples play,” Herrington said. “It wrapped up the festivities perfectly.”
            Music played late into the evening allowing students and adults to enjoy the night.
             For more information visit