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This weekend, it all comes together in Oxford

07/31/2018 10:17AM ● Published by J. Chambless

Eve 6 will be headlining the first Connective Art & Music Festival in downtown Oxford on Aug. 4.

This Saturday, a year of planning pays off with the debut of the Connective Art & Music Festival in Oxford.

The Aug. 4 event has been in the works for so long because of the thousands of details that had to be worked out. Downtown Oxford will be transformed into a festival ground that may hold 10,000 people throughout the day.

The Oxford Arts Alliance and Oxford Mainstreet, Inc., have been planning the event for more than a year. Brian Wenzka, the executive director of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc., said that the goal was to bring a diverse group of people together to enjoy art and music, and to shine a spotlight on the arts and businesses of Oxford. And organizers have been careful to include fun for all age groups.

“From kids to millennials, all the way up to seniors, we have something for everyone,” Wenzka said. “That's what we're most excited about.”

From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., visitors can stroll the downtown area and see music on three stages – at the bottom of Market Street near Fourth Street, a stage in Oxford Memorial Park, and one at Broad Street near Third Street and Niblock Alley.

Landhope Farms is the main sponsor of the Connective Art & Music Festival. Oxford Feed & Lumber presents the lineup of country music throughout the day, including headliner John King, the Sherwood Brothers, The DuPont Brothers, Blades of Grass and Chris Mongahan. The Local Stage will have Moe Blues and Bethlehem and Sad Patrick, among others. Lincoln University presents the sights and the sounds of the world's cultures on the World Music stage, which will include everything from a 15-person African drum group to a mariachi band.

Oxford Plumbing and Heating is presenting the day's headliner, Eve 6. The southern California rock band, known for hits like “Inside Out,” “Here's to the Night” and “Victoria,” will headline the main stage. Wenzka said that he and the other organizers were excited when they were able to book the platinum-selling artist. The band enjoyed considerable success in the 1990s with a series of hits. The band also made appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and more.

There will be a battle of the bands competition during the day, and the winner will earn the opportunity to open for Eve 6 on the main stage.

The Clash of the Canvases will be between pre-selected professional artists. Festival-goers are encouraged to watch the artists work, and in the final hours of the event, visitors can vote on their favorite pieces. Artists will each be given the option to auction off their final piece, with 50 percent of proceeds given to the non-profits organizing the Connective Festival. The winners of both the competition and auction will be recognized at the end of the event.

Carlson Cultural Trust is sponsoring the gallery row of more than 20 artisans who will be selling sculptures, prints, paintings, pottery, fiber art, jewelry and more. There will also be art demonstrations scattered throughout Oxford. Teens and adults will have the opportunity to be creative at the Art and Music Skill Share Tents.

Armstrong is sponsoring a children's area for fun and creativity throughout the day. There will also be pop-up art installations and street busking.

“The Connective Art and Music Festival will be an all-day interactive arts experience,” said Allie King, one of the organizers. “While music will be ringing through the streets all day, festival attendees will also have a chance to create or become a part of the arts. See a mandala being created, or feel like a rule breaker and paint on a baby grand piano. See art being created by different demonstrators, such as throwing clay or sculpting out of metal. Art will be created throughout town, from artists painting new artwork on structures, or interactive art displays. Be prepared to be surprised, inspired and entertained. Regardless of what you have the chance to see or be a part of, we are sure you will leave feeling inspired to create something of your own.”

Another big part of the day will be food. Oxford's restaurants will be open, and there will more than 20 food trucks in the downtown area. There will be several outdoor dining options, too.

Wenzka said that organizers have been working with the restaurants to make sure that all the food vendors that are brought in offer complementary foods, and not what would be already available in Oxford. “One of the missions of the event is to have people enjoy food in the borough,” Wenzka said.

Food and beverages will be available from Avocados From Mexico, Bog Turtle Brewery, Herr Foods, Hollow Earth Brewing, Phillyfry, Pretzel Spot Cafe, Punk'd Pineapple, Rita's Water Ice, Sawmill Grill, Kona Ice, Sweet Magnolia Bakery and more.

While it takes a huge amount of work to launch an event of this scope, it has been very rewarding, Wenzka said. “As a first-time event, there has been a lot of learning for us. It's rewarding to look back now and see how far we've come.”

He credited a growing team of volunteers who have helped, as well as the large number of sponsors in the business community, for creating a festival that could become one of the region's largest events.

King said that as the date of the festival approaches, the buzz is building. “When we first began planning the festival, we wanted this to be something Oxford residents could take pride in,” King said. “We are seeing the excitement building. It's amazing to hear chatter about the Connective Festival, whether you are buying a cup of coffee in town or scrolling community message boards on Facebook. Oxford has exciting changes happening in town, and the Connective is certainly one of those talked-about events.”

Parking is available in the municipal parking lot off Second Street, and the municipal lot off Hodgson Street. These lots are metered. Free off-site parking is available at Oxford Area High School (705 Waterway Rd., Oxford) and Outback Warehouse (155 Barnsley Rd., Oxford). Free shuttle buses are available from the off-site parking lots. Shuttles begin running at 9:45 a.m., and the last shuttle leaves downtown Oxford at midnight.

Ticket sales end on Aug. 3, so visit www.connectivefestival.org for tickets in advance. General admission to the festival is $5, and includes all daytime activities. Passes for children under 5 are free. General admission plus the evening concert by the Battle of the Bands winner and headliner Eve 6 is $20. These tickets include all the daytime activities as well.

Follow the event on Facebook and Instagram @connectivefestival.

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