City representatives learn from road trip to Oxford

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2018

With the intent to learn from others, 12 representatives from Vicksburg, including Mayor George Flaggs, traveled to Oxford in October to meet with city officials to discuss public safety, infrastructure, tourism and how to create a more sustainable economic future for Vicksburg.

The meeting also focused on Oxford’s Double Decker Arts Festival.

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“We are trying to revamp our Riverfest and do some things that will create a more family friendly atmosphere and to also make it more cost effective,” Flaggs said.

“They have the Double Decker, so I thought we would go there and look at that.” 

The Double Decker Arts Festival is a 1-day, 2-night event that draws more than 60,000 people to downtown Oxford and the weekend event includes free admission, music concerts, a juried arts and crafts show and a “Square Fair for kids,” deputy director of the Vicksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau Laura Beth Strickland said.

Strickland, who was among the 12 who traveled to Oxford with the Mayor, said that one key difference between Oxford’s Double Decker and Vicksburg’s Riverfest is that Double Decker has a paid staff person in charge of their event.

“They do have a salaried person that runs Double Decker. I don’t know if we are at that point yet,” Strickland said of Riverfest, but added there were some elements of Double Decker that could be incorporated into the Vicksburg event.

“They have partnerships with Ole Miss,” Strickland said, and even though Vicksburg does not have a large university, the city does have branches of Hinds Community College and Alcorn State University that could participate, as well as the public and private schools districts.

“I know they would want to be a part of a festival that is family friendly and that is a lot of what we want to do in Vicksburg,” Strickland said. “The whole community in Oxford gets behind their festival, and I think that is something we can have here, to have a positive attitude and for Vicksburgers to show outside people why Vicksburg is so great.”

Obviously, Strickland said, any final decisions on the local festival would have to go through the Riverfest board, but the information that was gleaned from the trip to Oxford will be shared with those in charge.

“Looking at what other people do is always good. It keeps us up to date, and seeing if we can learn any tips to make our festival run smoothly and to improve its overall brand,” Strickland said.

Strickland said some of Oxford’s success could be attributed to the continuity of a paid staff person, but she did not discount Vicksburg’s all-volunteer Riverfest board.

“We have a group of volunteers who just love Vicksburg and want to make the festival great,” she said.

on main street

In addition to learning about Oxford’s Double Decker Arts Festival, the group from Vicksburg also discussed with Oxford officials improvements they could make to Main Street.

“We talked about working with downtown and how we can have better communication and just follow their model in how they work with their vendors and merchants and how they partner with each other,” Strickland said.

Some of the features Oxford incorporates, Strickland said, are partnership programs, “Square Dollars,” which is a lot like Vicksburg’s downtown dollars, as well as hospitality training, which includes not only downtown storeowners, but also hotel and restaurant owners.

“We would talk with these groups and share with them anything they may need to know about the community,” she said.

Strickland said she felt like the trip to Oxford was a success.

“We were all very excited. On the ride home, the people in my car talked for three hours on just the exciting things we could bring back and do here and, and I know those in the other vehicles were excited too,” she said.

More trips

Next up, Flaggs said he is planning to take a group either to Clinton or Madison and Little Rock, Arkansas.

“I want them to see their main street program and how in Arkansas, they brought back their city,” he said, adding the Arkansas revitalization is reflective of what he would like to do in relation to his 10-year-plan for improving the city of Vicksburg.

Those who traveled to Oxford Oct. 17 were Flaggs, Strickland, Sam Andrews, Danielle Williams, Fermika Smith, Cassandra Reed, Kim Hopkins, Trudy James, Linda Fondren, Annette Kirklin, Debbie Hayworth and Kimberly Smith.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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