Oxford may be a small college town surrounded by corn and soybean fields, but there are plenty of activities that make it a fun place to visit or even live in.
“Throughout the year, Oxford has regularly occurring events and activities as well as amenities to enjoy,” said Kim Daggy, executive director of Enjoy Oxford, the town’s visitors’ bureau. “We are spoiled to live in a place with lots to do and fantastic amenities at the university and city levels.”
Daggy mentioned a variety of different organizations and places — including Oxford Parks and Recreation, the Chamber of Commerce, Yoga in the Park and the Oxford Community Arts Center — that help bring the community together.
She also mentioned recurring events such as the Uptown Music Concert Series. This is an event that runs from June through August, and it’s been an Oxford tradition for 36 seasons.
Enjoy Oxford is an organization whose mission is to enhance the economy of the city. It uses photography, videography and other visual-related strategies to show the residents and visitors of Oxford what activities are going on in the town.
The organization is active on social media, puts up posters around town, prints welcome guides, sends out monthly newsletters and actively adds to a community calendar. Its website is open to anyone, whether they are a resident of the town, a student at Miami University or someone who is visiting.
“Our culture and philosophy have been ‘what is good for a resident is also good for a visitor’ and vice versa,” Daggy said. “Saying welcome to Oxford is what we do best.”
Daggy recalled a time when she attended the uptown Halloween festivities. She was casually talking to a family who had recently moved to Oxford.
“Not revealing who I was, they said they were new residents in Oxford and the events like the Halloween celebration uptown is what made their decision to move here,” she said. “I think that’s pretty special testimony.”
Daggy said that Miami University students impact Oxford’s events and activities a lot, but there are some activities that target the “slower periods” when the students aren’t present. That way, there’s always something to do in Oxford whether students are a part of it or not.
“Events and activities during the academic year have an influx of residents and students in attendance,” she said. “In the slower months, when the majority of the student body returns to their hometowns, we have a larger resident base at events.”
Daggy also mentioned that her mission is to connect with students to create a community beyond campus, in hopes of those students returning to Oxford to visit or become lifelong residents in the future.
Hueston Woods is a place in which both Oxford community members and Miami students can visit. Kathryn Conner, the park manager, mentioned that it’s a great place for students to go to if they want to get away from the campus life for a little while.
Conner highlighted Hueston Woods’ golf course, disc golf course and mountain bike course. She mentioned that the regular hiking trails get a lot of attraction as well.
“We have an opportunity for just about everybody,” she said. “You can just come out, sit under a tree, sit at a picnic table and just enjoy some fresh air and a good view.”
She also mentioned that the park offers a lodge with beautiful views for those who want to feel like they are outdoors, but not fully immerse themselves in the wilderness. There are also many different trails that are tailored to different levels of hikers.
Hueston Woods also has a nature center in which the park’s naturalists host free educational programs. This is open to the public and is great for families and children living in Oxford.
“You can come out and see our educational turtles, snakes, fish, birds of prey, foxes and other mammals,” Conner said. “You can learn about their stories and our park’s history from our naturalists.”
Fossil hunting and collecting is an activity that visitors have enjoyed that Conner found surprising. She said that Hueston Woods is the one of the only state parks where people don’t need a permit to take a fossil home.
“You just need to make sure that the fossil is smaller than the size of your face, and you can’t use it for landscaping purposes,” Conner said. “So, any fossil that you find in the creek bed, you’re welcome to take home with you. It’s pretty neat.”
Hueston Woods gets about half a million visitors per year. Conner said that the park usually gets more out-of-town visitors on the weekends and local community members visit more on the weekdays.
Conner also said that the numbers don’t fluctuate as much as it is expected when Miami students move back to their hometowns, especially during the summer.
“What’s really nice about having Miami so close is it keeps our park busy all year round,” she said. “We get a lot of that traffic through here. A lot of people bring their parents out here. It’s a nice place that’s near campus, but you feel like you’re really showing what this community has to offer.”