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Lauren West Cleary

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About Oxford

There are many reasons to choose to live in this historic southern town, but its literary tradition is one of its top calling cards. Oxford, located in rolling hills just south of the Tennessee line, is home to the University of Mississippi ("Ole Miss") and has been the inspiration for writers William Faulkner, John Grisham, Willie Morris and Cynthia Shearer, as well as many others. Residents talk of the town's famous "literary mystique," that intangible something that gets the creative juices flowing and beckons to poets, novelists, and, yes, families. Oxford offers a rich, cosmopolitan (but laid-back) culture at an affordable price. Oxford was first incorporated as a town in 1837, and was given its name after the town of Oxford, England in the hopes of securing Mississippi's first university. The University of Mississippi was chartered in 1841, located in Oxford, and opened its doors to students in 1848. It has since become a landmark of Oxford and the heart of the South. Oxford's growth in the next century made it an attractive place to settle. Among those who made their home here was the family of William Faulkner in 1902. More recently, the population of Oxford has grown from 10,026 in 1990 to 11,756 in 2000, an increase of 17.6%. It is estimated that the current (2007) population is 19,000 after Oxford annexed 4.3 square miles this year to bring the total size to 16.5 square miles. Lafayette County has grown in the same period of time from 31,826 to 38,744. Oxford has been ranked many times as an ideal retirement destination because of its reasonable cost of living, high-quality medical care, low crime rate, variety of restaurants and other amenities important to retirees. Besides good food, enticing shops and a diverse lifestyle, Oxford has activities and events - year-round - to attract anyone. There are different Ole Miss sporting events to enjoy any time of the year. April hosts two well-known events -- The Oxford Conference for the Book and the Double Decker Festival. June, also a busy month, sees the LOU Summer Sunset Series, the Oxford Film Festival and the Yoknapatawpha Summer Writers' Workshop. The Mid-town Farmers' Market runs May through September and features Mississippi grown produce. The Annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference is in July, and August is consumed with the onslaught of football season. Visitors and residents alike can take advantage of events at any time, such as the Artist Series, Thacker Mountain Radio, Brown Bag Luncheons and Lecture Series. No matter the time, no matter the occasion, there is something for everyone in Oxford.

For more information on life in the Magnolia State, read on or visit the links below.

Discover Mississippi

Natural Geography

Waterways play an important part in the physical landscape of Mississippi. In addition to the winding Mississippi that forms our western border, major rivers such as the Yazoo, Bib Black, Pearl and Pascagoula and numerous other tributaries make their way across the state. The western portion of the state is made up of the wide lowlands of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, commonly referred to as simply the “Delta”. To the east, the land becomes slightly hillier and includes marshes, farmland, forests and even prairie land. Mississippi’s coastline along the Gulf of Mexico is a jagged series of bays, inlets and marshland. A low series of barrier islands lies several miles offshore and forms the waterway known as Mississippi sound.

Cities

Jackson is the state capital and the largest metropolitan area in Mississippi. Jackson also stands as the state’s primary manufacturing, transportation, commercial and cultural center. Gulfport is a major shipping port and resort destination. Hattiesburg is a trade and education center for southeastern Mississippi. Greenville is the largest city north of the I-20 corridor, and is principally a river port and trade hub.

Though cities in Mississippi have experienced continual growth over the last 60-plus years, the state remains one of the most rural in the nation. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, only 49 percent of the state’s population were living in urban centers. Unlike much of the country, small towns remain a vital part of life here.

Economy

The dark, highly fertile soil found in the floodplains of Mississippi’s many rivers are perfectly suited for crop cultivation, and accordingly some twenty percent of the state is comprised of farmland. Once almost entirely reliant on agricultural production, Mississippi’s economy is now centered on service sectors as well as manufacturing. Numerous tax advantages, a strong labor supply and access to raw materials have attracted many industries to Mississippi from the Northeast in recent years. The legalization of gambling along the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast in the 1990’s helped increase tourism in the state.

Culture

Mississippi’s cultural scene starts with its strong ties to history, as colonial buildings, antebellum homes and historical museums are found throughout the state. Music has always played an important role in the social lives of Mississippians, from church hymnals and gospel revivals to community-wide folk singing. Mississippi ‘s musical tradition greatly influenced the rich history of blues, and many prominent artists in genres such as jazz, country and rock have called our state home. A growing film scene can be found here as well, as seven film festivals are held around the state each year.

Photos courtesy of the Mississippi Development Authority / Division of Tourism

Oxford Convention and Visitors Bureau
Oxford Chamber of Commerce
Retire to Oxford, MS
City of Oxford Official Website
Ole Miss Sports

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