Excursion: On the Square in Oxford
photography by Ashlee Nobel
April is the perfect time of year to travel to the quaint, yet culturally rich, town of Oxford, Mississippi. This hometown of southern writing icon William Faulkner has attracted and bred a new generation of creatives — the late Barry Hannah, John Grisham, Tom Franklin, Beth Ann Fennelly and Joey Lauren Adams have called it home — with its beautiful historic architecture; lively and inspiring atmosphere; and sleepy southern mentality.
One of the most popular cultural events in Oxford is the weekly Thacker Mountain Radio show. This literary tradition welcomes musical guests to play and published southern authors to read an excerpt from their works before a live audience.
“Live music and writing are staples of Mississippi arts, and radio is a perfect way to showcase their work,” Kathryn McGaw, Thacker Mountain producer, said. Thacker has run for 12 years and is currently housed at Off Square Books on the Courthouse Square. Performances are each Thursday at 7 p.m. Admission is free, and there are no reserved seats. Thacker airs live on the university station, Rebel Radio 92.1 FM, and re-broadcast Saturdays at 7 p.m. on Mississippi Public Radio. For more information, log onto thackermountain.com.
Another must-see event in Oxford is the 17th Annual Double Decker Arts Festival, April 27 through 28 on the Square. This celebration of music, food and the arts kicks off with a concert Friday night featuring Charlie Mars, Deer Tick and Iron and Wine — admission to this concert is $18. Saturday is free, open to the public and will feature art vendors, food vendors, the children’s Square Fair, and music throughout the day. For more information, log onto oxfordcvb.com.
You can’t talk about Oxford without mentioning all of the fantastic food options, ranging from fine dining to soul food diners. City Grocery is one of the most talked about restaurants in the south due to creative, fresh and delicious dishes prepared by owner and James Beard Award-winning Chef John Currence. The restaurant is known for their Shrimp and Grits, but any item on the menu is sure to please. Since the success of City Grocery, Currence has opened a handful of other successful bistros including Bouré, Snackbar and Big Bad Breakfast.
Big Bad Breakfast is the place to go for a hot and hearty first meal of the day. Highlights include the house-cured Tabasco/Brown Sugar Bacon and the Anson Mills Steel Cut Oatmeal. Try a bit of everything with the Big Bad Breakfast Plate: two eggs, cooked-to order; a choice of patty sausage, bacon, andouille or country ham; home fries or grits; gravy (red eye, sausage or tomato); and toast or biscuit. The bacon and sausage are smoked in-house. Lunch entrees include fried chicken, bone-in pork chop and more.
If you are looking to step outside of southern cuisine, try Two Stick Sushi Bar and Grill. This sushi, Thai and Japanese restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. They stay open late on weekends to host live music and drinks. Check out sushi happy hour, daily from 3 to 5 p.m.
Shopping on the Square is eclectic in Oxford. While the majority of shops cater to the college crowd, there are quite a few hidden gems filled with pottery, designer clothing, gifts, unique jewelry and more. Amelia is a unique boutique gift shop filled with beautiful and creative things curated by owner Erin Austen Abbott. Find jewelry, art, handmade cards, prints, unique children’s clothing, décor and more.
Cicada is on the cutting edge of style for both men and women with designer labels in clothing, shoes and accessories. Cicada for Him carries top designers, like John Varvatos, James Jeans, NSF, Billy Reid and more. Shop for denim, suits, shirts and ties, dress shoes, boots, sneakers and essential accessories, such as sunglasses, flasks, watches and more. Cicada for Her, located just two doors down on South Lamar Boulevard, also carries high-caliber, fine clothing, shoes and accessories, for women. Find labels such as Rag and Bone, Missoni, Stuart Weitzman, YSL and Vincent.
For the city’s best in fine and unique jewelry, visit Brooks Collection Fine Jewelry. This boutique jewelry shop carries engagement and wedding rings as well as all of your diamond needs in bracelets, earrings and necklaces. Some of their more notable lines include Catherine Page, Heather Moore, Lana Jewelry, Malick & Grace and Tacori Jewelry.
With some of the most notable restaurants, shops and tourist attractions in the south, there is always something to do in Oxford, Miss., any season of the year. For more information on festivals, shopping and dining in Oxford, Miss., log onto oxfordcvb.com.