Second Connective Art & Music Festival set for Aug. 3, 2019 in Oxford
● By Richard Gaw
Although there have been no formal calculations crunched in order to determine the exact number of visitors who attended the first Connective Art & Music Festival held last month in Oxford, it is estimated that the population of the town grew by about 6,000 on Aug. 4.
That's a number that firmly gives evidence that the festival was not just an event. Rather, it was nothing short of a happening – a streetfest gala of music, art, food, and fun that helped put Oxford on the local and regional map as an emerging hub of community, culture and commerce. It was a landmark of moments and forever photographs: Gallery Row on Locust Street. The artwork from the youngsters at the Lighthouse Youth Center, proudly displayed at the Oxford Arts Alliance. The colors of painted faces and the sound of homemade musical instruments, up and down Third Street. The electric pulse of local bands and the finale, a rousing set performed by headliner EVE6.
Yet, for the most movers and shakers of Oxford who helped to make the festival successful, there is very little resting on laurels among them, and the reason is quite simple: They're already planning for the second Connective Art & Music Festival, scheduled for Aug. 3, 2019. The First Friday event in Oxford on Aug. 2 will serve as an integrated lead-in to the festival.
“Our goal starting out was to try and make this an annual event, but we needed to make sure the first festival went off well,” said Mary Lou Baily, Main Street Manager of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. “For a first-time festival, we thought it was a success, and the town felt busy but not overly-crowded, and there was a nice flow between the many activities that were going on throughout the day.”
“We do many events throughout the year, so we were confident that we, along with the Oxford Arts Alliance, could pull off an event of this caliber, but we were happy to know that every piece of it ran so smoothly.”
While the festival's two primary organizers were Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. and the Oxford Arts Alliance, the core planning committee also consisted of six volunteers who spent over a year dedicated to pulling off the Connective, Bethany Atkinson, Allie King, Dan Meixell, Bruce Mowday, Melissa Pacella and Neeley Spotts. The downtown business owners, Oxford Borough, the Oxford Police, Fire and EMS departments and other town leaders supported the festival from the beginning, which only added to the success of the day. There were also more than 170 volunteers who contributed a total of 1,200 hours on Aug. 4 alone.
Although the Second Annual Connective Art & Music Festival is still a year away, festival organizers will create a similar schedule using the same template as this year's event, with new artists, musicians and participating organizations. The musical line-up will include three stages showcasing a diverse line-up that will include local and regional bands, world music and a Battle of the Bands competition; a Gallery Row that will feature artists and art workshops; and activity tents that will offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy demonstrations and participate in kids' activities.
The goal of the second Connective Festival will duplicate the intention of the first, which is to create an annual event that highlights the growing artistic community in Oxford, while also exposing its vibrancy to people who live outside the region.
“Our original concept was to connect neighbors, businesses and different groups together, but making it large scale enough to draw people from out of town,” Baily said. “We learned that for many who attended, it was their first time in Oxford. That was one of our goals, to introduce first-time visitors to Oxford, and Oxford put on a good show for them. We hope to see them back.”
“The Connective Art & Music Festival is unique in the fact that it is family-friendly, but there are interactive activities for people of all ages to do. From young toddlers to teenagers and parents and families, it appealed to everyone. During the EVE6 concert, many families who attended said it was the first time they were seeing a live rock show with their kids.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.