Celebrating Abundant Talents
Oxford is a cultural mecca. Internationally known as the home of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner, Oxford has been named one of “The 100 Best Small Arts Towns in America.” The area’s abundant cultural resources include a generous supply of talented performers, writers, visual artists, musicians, filmmakers and educators. Oxford-Lafayette County and the University of Mississippi stage a wide assortment of concerts, theater productions, exhibits, readings, lectures and symposia throughout the year, drawing from a richly diverse population as well as visiting artists and scholars and major touring groups. For information about cultural activities throughout Oxford and Lafayette County, visit the community calendar at www.oxfordeagle.com, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council website at www.oxfordarts.com and the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts website at www.olemiss.edu/fordcenter.
Around Oxford, the lively sounds of jazz, blues and rock music can be heard regularly at numerous restaurants and clubs, and a growing number of performing arts groups perform classic and original works at various locales. Art galleries host shows and receptions for artists spanning every genre. The University Museum and Historic houses, the Powerhouse Community Arts Center and Oxford-Lafayette Public Library regularly offer displays and programs for adults and children to enjoy. The Powerhouse features a 220-seat theatre or 400-person concert space and features a gallery of rotating regional artists along with meeting spaces and education programs year round.
Ole Miss Theatre, part of the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Mississippi, performs a wide range of plays, musicals, and dance concerts that are enjoyed by the university and Oxford communities. Go to www.olemiss.edu/depts/theatre_arts/omt/
season/schedule.html for a full schedule of events. Local theatre company, Theatre Oxford, hosts the national 10 Minute Play Contest, which receives hundreds of submissions from around the country with playwrites hoping to have their production staged for the festival time. www.theatreoxford.com/
On the last weekend in April each year, Oxford pulls out all the stops when it hosts the Double Decker Arts Festival—a lively celebration of music, art and food on the historic downtown Courthouse Square. The day begins with the Double Decker Spring Run, which unites nearly 1,200 runners from our region for a 10K run, 5K run and a Kids Fun Run through the Ole Miss campus and downtown Oxford. For more information go to www.doubledeckerspringrun.com. The festival, named for the town’s authentic English tour bus, draws more than 50,000 people for a day of entertaining sights, sounds and flavors. Over 120 art vendors from around the region display their creative wares, including pottery, glass craftsmanship, woodwork and artists working in a variety of mediums. Throughout the afternoon and evening, shoppers browse to the rhythmic sounds of bluegrass, jazz, gospel, blues, country, folk, Cajun and regional rock-and-roll groups. Other attractions of the day include the “Taste of Oxford” food court, the Children’s Square Fair and an annual Spring Bike Ride, and the Best Dressed Pet Contest. For a full schedule of the weekend’s events, check out the website www.doubledeckerfestival.com. The18th annual event is scheduled for April 26 & 27, 2013.
On Sundays in June, the Lafayette-Oxford-University Summer Sunset Series presents a changing medley of free outdoor entertainment, in the Grove on the Ole Miss campus, including jazz, gospel and various other flavors of music. The community’s Annual LOU 4th of July Community Celebration, complete with a street dance, a community picnic in the Grove and a dazzling fireworks show, is featured in the series. Go to www.lou4thofjuly.com for more information.
During the spring and fall, the internationally famous Square Books hosts the Thacker Mountain Radio Show, a live radio broadcast showcasing prominent writers who read from their work between sets by local musicians.
The Oxford Film Festival was created in 2003 to bring exciting, new and unusual films (and the people who create them) to North Mississippi. Our annual four-day film festival, held in February, continues to attract quality films and highlight the talents of young filmmakers from all over the world to North Mississippi to screen alongside the work of local filmmakers and has been praised for its hospitality.
The festival screens films of varying lengths and categories (animation, documentary feature and short, experimental, narrative feature and short) in both showcase and competition settings, hosts panel discussions on issues in contemporary filmmaking and invites the filmmakers to interact with the audience at a number of social events. The Oxford Film Festival entertains and educates its participants, providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to watch independent films as well as to meet the filmmakers and learn from industry professionals. The variety of films, in addition to the panels, attracts filmgoers of all ages and backgrounds.
In 2012, the Oxford Film Festival partnered with the annual Oxford Music Festival. The two festivals host music and film in venues around Oxford. While the film festival showcases the work of filmmakers, the Oxford Music Festival highlights the depth of musical talent and traditions in North Mississippi. The festival showcases how musical styles from blues, rockabilly, bluegrass and country influence musicians from the region. For more information, visit www.oxfordfilmfest.com.
The Gertrude C. Ford Performing Arts Center, a state-of-the-art venue on the UM campus, provides quality entertainment by high-profile artists from around the world as well as rising stars from the University’s theater, opera, music programs and community ensembles. Two international literary conferences are held in Oxford each year: The Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference in its 38th year and the Oxford Conference for the Book in its 18th year. Day and evening presentations feature some of the most celebrated authors in America and attract writers, scholars, editors and publishers from around the world. Also held in Oxford each year is the Music of the South Conference in its 7th year; the Annual Blues Today: A Living Blues Symposium in its 9th year; and the Annual Southern Foodways Symposium, in its 14th year.
Southeastern Conference sports and the Ole Miss Rebels are a great source of excitement around Oxford and Lafayette County throughout the school year. Fall football game days are replete with tailgate parties and reunions in the Grove and generate a special atmosphere of energy and fun all around.