The Double Decker Arts Festival: Putting Oxford on the Map for 25 Years

By Brandi Perry


Oxford, Mississippi, had a vision 25 years ago inspired by the famous double-decker bus imported to the city in 1994. What began as a small-town event has grown into one of the premier events in all the southeast. What started as a one-day event and an old truck bed serving as the music stage has grown tremendously. Now presented as a two-day event, there is more than enough food, art and music for the more than 60,000 people who soak up everything Oxford can give them. After the 2021 event was canceled due to the Coronavirus, this may be the biggest year ever for the event.


The festival kicks off Friday, April 22, with a variety of art demonstrations around the square followed by an evening full of music while Thacker Radio hosts its live broadcast. Saturday will be an all-day event complete with about 100 art vendors and more than 20 local food vendors, all while a variety of touring musicians take the stage and delight the fans throughout the day.

Friday night’s music will kick off at 6:15 pm when The Wilkins Sister of Memphis, Tennessee, takes the stage. Known best for their award-winning full-length record You Can’t Hurry God, the sisters will sing a mix of gospel, blues and R&B. At 7:45 pm, Virginia natives 49 Winchester will take the stage with their rock and roll music, blended with the traditions of Appalachia. Owners of three albums and hundreds of live performances, this group will have the Oxford crowd rocking on Friday night. Friday night’s headliner will take the stage at 9 pm, bringing with him a 2018 Country Songwriter Artist of the Year and ACM, Billboard, Teen Choice, CMT and CMA Awards. For country fans, Brett Young is a household name thanks to his songs “Lady,” “In Case You Didn’t Know,” “Mercy,” “Like I Loved You,” and many others.


Saturday, April 23, is jam-packed with musical acts from all over the country. The festivities kick-off that morning at 11 am with local favorites, Happy Landing, an alternative folk band that got its start while the members were attending the University of Mississippi. Through various musical influences (alternative rock, bluegrass, pop-punk), the band is known for its harmonies and instrumental executions.


Buffalo Nichols will take the stage at 12:30 pm with his worldwide influence of blues, jazz and folk music. His music is an outlet for self-expression, and attendees will be amazed at his musical emotions and inspired by the renditions of a long-gone era of music.

At 2 pm, Maggie Rose, with her rock and roll, soul, folk, funk and R&B sounds will take the stage. 2019 was a big year for Maggie as she opened for Heart and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, in addition to sharing the bill on the Cayamo Cruise with Emmylou Harris and Jason Isbell. With more than 80 Grand Ole Opry appearances, she is sure to rock Oxford.

At 3:30 pm, Samantha Fish and her top-ranking status as a contemporary blues guitarist will take the stage and be followed at 5 pm by one of America’s defining voices of freedom and peace, Mavis Staples. In addition to marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., performing for John F. Kennedy’s inauguration and singing in the Obama White House, she will bring her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Blues Hall of Fame to the stage. Staples will take attendees on a soulful, emotional and rocking journey.


At 6:30 pm, one of the great trombone and jazz musicians of our era will take the stage. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue have rocked the city of New Orleans for years at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, but the accolades do not stop there. In addition to playing with Aaron Neville, Lenny Kravitz, She & Him, Zac Brown, Dierks Bentley and Mark Ronson, he has also opened tours for Daryl Hall & John Oates and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Five White House performances will tell you that this is a show you do not want to miss.

Closing out Saturday night and the festival is The Revivalists at 8:30 pm. In addition to being a mainstay in the Billboard Hot 100, they have performed on Austin City Limits, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Ellen Show, TODAY and have been nominated for numerous awards and were named the Billboard’s Top New Rock Artist of 2017.


Even though there is a huge amount of marquee-named performers at the 2022 Double Decker Festival, there are just as many delicious foods as there are talented artists. Like any good southern festival, there will be a wide selection of sweets and savory foods: all made with love and charm! So, whether you are enjoying a thick slice of pizza, a snow cone with cream or even roast beef sandwiches, you can rest assured all the vendors are there to showcase their best product!


There is nothing like a good art festival; that is one of the most exciting aspects of the Double Decker Festival. Visitors will be exposed to a variety of media that includes paintings, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking and even sculptures. There will be so many incredible opportunities to visit with and purchase your favorite type of art.

Since 2005, the Double Decker Arts Festival has brought home local, regional and national awards, including a nod from Mississippi Magazine on multiple occasions for Best Free Event in the state. Yes, the entire event is free to attend! In 2009, the Mississippi Tourism Association named the Double Decker the Best Large Festival in Mississippi. In 2010, the Association of Destination Management Executives International named the festival the Best Public Event.


If you are planning to attend, the entire festival occurs around the square in Downtown Oxford, rain or shine. On Friday, there are also two historic Oxford bus tours with a tour guide that is available from Visit Oxford. The tours are at 3 and 4 pm, and tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. Please call (662) 232-2477 to reserve seats.


The Double Decker Spring Run (5k, 10k and Fun Run) will commence on Saturday. Contact the Oxford Chamber of Commerce to sign up or for more information. Additionally, Double Decker Arts Festival merchandise is available at the Visit Oxford office (1013 Jackson Avenue East) ahead of the festival as well as the Merchandise and Information booth located at the corner of FNB bank on North Lamar. Posters and t-shirts with the 2019 artwork as well as t-shirts without the artwork will be available. Past years’ posters will also be available for purchase.


For more information on the 2022 Double Decker Arts Festival, go to doubledeckerfestival.com or check out their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can also give them a call at (662) 232-2477 or by email at tourism@visitoxfordms.com.

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