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October in Oxford brings out the crowds

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Oxfordfest2021

Tents and people line an Oxford street for Oxfordfest Saturday.

A big weekend at the speedway down the road failed to deter locals from making their annual pilgrimage to Oxfordfest.

Seeking diversion on a warm October day, folks braved the maskless crowds to check out the loads of craft-filled tables and food vendors overflowing with savory and sweet smells — a typical scene at the annual craft and vendor festival in old downtown Oxford. Turkey legs, lemonade stands, and raffle tickets brought everyone elbow to elbow; Oxfordfest officials figure 20,000 to 30,000 visit the event every October.

Local small business owner April Clark was among the vendors there with her designer dolls, cosmetics, books, clothing and more. Pitched to tween girls, Clark’s brand has been to a toy fair in New York in her effort to push the products’ reach a bit farther. She said she hopes to eventually find space for her product on department store shelves.

“Downtown Talladega, we have sewing classes,” Clark said. “We do experiences where people do birthday parties. It’s a little … my little new brand.”

Clark said her mother was a toy designer, working on the Care Bears, and that’s what led to her interest in the business.

Clark said the studio operates by appointment only, but there is an e-commerce site. 

The director of Historic Main Street Oxford, Hunter Gentry, had positioned himself just outside the stage area where the band played, offering T-shirts, ornaments, and photo books. 

“We’re set up today to give out information about upcoming events, about what Main Street is, and also selling some things,” Gentry said. 

He said he’s been the director since May of 2017 and enjoys the meet-and-greet aspect of Oxfordfest. 

Up the row a little ways was the Live South blood donation drive bus. Spokesperson Kelly Porter was there prepping some of the empty bags readying them for donors — behind her a large pile of free T-shirts. 

“All of our blood stays local,” Porter said.

Porter said this was the bloodmobile’s fifth year coming to Oxfordfest, with this year being the best turn out they’ve had. 

“I don’t know if it’s the nice T-shirt or what,” Porter said.  

Porter said the organization hosts a blood drive every day of the year except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Potential donors can typically find them at a business, school, church, or some other event around Oxford.