Visit Oxford Staff Await Word on Large Gatherings for August Double Decker Festival

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor

Visit Oxford office on E. Jackson Avenue.
Photo by Talbert Toole.

Plans for the Double Decker Arts Festival are still ago for August as far as Visit Oxford is concerned; however, there is still uncertainty as to whether highly populated events will be allowed in time for the popular Oxford event.

On Monday, Double Decker Coordinator Lee Ann Stubbs told the Oxford Tourism Council that oversees Visit Oxford that everything is in place for the festival to be held on Aug. 14 and 15.

The event was originally planned for April 24-25 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

While Mississippi and Oxford are in Phase 1 of their re-opening plans with more businesses now allowed to open their doors, there are still strict requirements mandated including social distancing of customers (keeping 6 feet apart) and wearing face coverings while in the businesses.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill has previously stated publicly she hopes to have Oxford back open completely by Aug. 1.

Gov. Tate Reeves’ latest order allows groups of up to 20 people to gather outdoors and 10 indoors.

Stubbs said the bands scheduled to play in August have told her they are all still willing to play.

“But they are wanting to know when we will know for sure if we can hold the festival,” she said

In recent years, the Double Decker Arts Festival has been bringing more than 60,000 people to Oxford for the event, with local hotels being booked up. However, several of Oxford’s hotels are still closed to guests.

Stubbs and those involved with Double Decker aren’t the only ones awaiting news on when larger groups of people can gather in Oxford.

Hayden Guest, director of the Oxford Conference Center told the Tourism Council that she also waiting to find out when larger groups can gather indoors so the center can possibly book some events this summer.

She said she was recently on a conference call with state leaders and the answer to the question “When?” was vague.

“At first they were talking about September but then later said it could be in July, which would be great for us,” she said.

Guest said the conference center has recently booked several events for 2021.

Visit Oxford Director Kinne Ferris reported that the office on East Jackson Avenue remains closed; however, she and her staff have started working on details for reopening and how to best keep visitors and staff safe. The Tourism Council suggested Visit Oxford should reopen when other city buildings like City Hall reopens. 

No announcement on when city buildings will be reopening has been made by the Mayor’s office as of Monday.