Oxford will celebrate Mississippi’s eclectic mix of artists at the third annual Art-er Limits Fringe Festival on August 11-14. The event highlights the diverse talents that make Mississippi, well, just a little weird.
The Festival was designed as a sort of arts sampler with concerts, performance and workshops that last around 45 minutes and cover a wide range of topics. This allows visitors time to experience multiple mediums, performances and venues.
“We want people to explore and discover without feeling intimidated,” said Andrews.
Many of the weekend’s events are free or inexpensive. Blake Tartt III of New Regional Planning and Cathead Vodka are sponsors for the event, and all artists share in the proceeds from the weekend’s general admissions ticket sales. The events are scheduled to take place in various venues in and around the Oxford Square, including coffee shops, bars and outdoor spaces.
The eccentric weekend kicks off with the Iron Bartender Competition where each bartender will be given a box of mystery ingredients. Bartenders will open the boxes 30 minutes prior to the contest and then craft a cocktail using what’s inside. The audience will sample the drinks, and a winner will be decided by a combination of tips and votes.
Another popular event is the Secret Show, which as its name suggests, is kept under wraps until the very moment of the event. The event has sold out every year, and, according to Andrews, the show relies on artist/audience interaction. Artists are given a budget and must come up with an interactive concept so participants come to understand the art forms by taking part in creating them. Past Secret Shows have featured puppet doormen, interactive painting and paper airplane making contests.
In addition to providing a weekend of entertainment, Fringe Fest provides an opportunity for education. The festival also provides attendees with the experience and vocabulary to understand how local and folk art directly influence modern art.
“Someone can learn the techniques of hula dancing during one workshop, then attend a modern dance show an hour later and see how those body movements relate to fine art and influence something like ballet,” said Andrews. “Because Oxford is one of the fastest growing communities in the state, it tends to be presented in a refined or polished way,” he continued.
However, he credits Oxford’s interesting art scene for part of that growth.
“It’s often the imperfections and quirkiness that make a place feel authentic, and that attracts people to our town,” he added.
Andrews hopes that festival-goers will leave the weekend with the desire for more — whether that be for more art or more Mississippi.
“Tourism is a major part of our state,” said Andrews. “We had 22 million visitors last year, and we want those visitors to have real Mississippi stories of their own to share.”
To learn more about the unique happenings at this year’s Fringe Fest, visit oxfordfringefest.com.