Permanent outdoor dining is almost a reality in Oxford as the Jackson Avenue East “streetery” project nears completion. While the city had plans to expand the sidewalks of the busy street pre-pandemic, the need and popularity of temporary outdoor dining during COVID altered those plans slightly. From a basic expansion due to safety concerns, the current design will create a pedestrian-friendly area while allowing restaurants to expand their footprint to allow permanent outdoor dining and shops to utilize space for sidewalk sales, et al.
As the project came to fruition, Visit Oxford Executive Director Kinney Ferris and her team wanted to commemorate the new space. “We are thrilled that our visitors and community will now have a more pedestrian friendly area and that the businesses will have expanded footprints,” Ferris said. “We’re excited to bring live music to the newly reconfigured street and celebrate that we now have permanent outdoor dining with ‘Eat in the Street.’”
On Saturday, August 28, Jackson Avenue East will be blocked to thru traffic which will allow family-friendly festivities throughout the day before ending with live music on-stage at the west end near the Federal building and St. Peter’s Episcopal church.
Get your stretch on
Start the morning with Yoga in the Street at 8 am with Lydia Siniard Foster. Bring your yoga mat and get your sweat on in the street in front of Visit Oxford.
Family friendly activities
From 10:30 am until 12:30 pm, a balloon artist will be set up on the lawn of Visit Oxford creating balloon art for children. From 1-4 pm, Ole Miss Athletics will have interactive games for young Rebel fans. This setup will be located in the parking lot behind Olive Juice Kids, next to Visit Oxford. Members of the athletics department will be present to meet and greet and to distribute promotional posters for the upcoming season.
With tables and chairs lining the middle of East Jackson Avenue, patrons can grab food from “small bites” menus around the Square and, quite literally, eat in the street. Participating restaurants offering special menu items include Saint Leo, Moe’s BBQ, and SoLa. As more join in the coming weeks, Visit Oxford will add them to online promotions and throughout their social media.
Live music will kick off with Jimbo Mathus & The Dial Back Sounds taking the stage at 5 pm; Mathus is a local singer-songwriter and guitarist who has played the Double Decker Arts Festival several times, the latest being in 2018 as part of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Memphis soul gospel queen Elizabeth King will take the stage next. King recorded her first single in 1970 but didn’t release her first full-length album, Living in the Last Days, until 2021. The 77-year-old gospel singer thought she would never have a chance to record her album, but said, “Because after all these years at my age, I never thought I would have another chance. It gives me a chance to tell people it’s never too late. But you never know what God is gonna do for you. So just keep striving.”
The headliner for ‘Eat in the Street’ is Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors who will take the stage at 7:30 pm. An Americana act hailing from Nashville, Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors have sold over 150,000 albums to date and played over 2,000 concert dates in 7 countries. Their latest album, Dragons, is available now after debuting at #1 on the Billboard Americana/Folk Albums, #1 Amazon New Albums, and #1 iTunes Singer Songwriter chart. The band has appeared at Bonnaroo, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Stagecoach, and more, while sharing stages with legendary artists like Willie Nelson, John Hiatt, Zac Brown Band, The Avett Brothers and more.
“We hope you’ll join us throughout the day for ‘Eat in the Street’ on August 28,” Ferris said. “Bring your lawn chairs to set up in the street as you support local restaurants and businesses, as well as enjoy some great live music on our brand new streetery.”