Arts, Beats & Eats organizers say event will be bigger and better

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published August 31, 2017

ROYAL OAK — A party two decades in the making will hit the streets this weekend when the 20th annual Ford Arts, Beats & Eats comes to downtown Royal Oak.

Arguably the largest food, music and arts festival in Michigan, the event will take place Friday, Sept. 1, through Monday, Sept. 4. As in previous years, free admission will be offered from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on opening day.

The event hours are 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. on Monday. Regular admission costs $3 until 3 p.m., $5 after 3 p.m. and $7 after 5 p.m.

The music is always a big draw every Labor Day weekend, and this year, event producer Jon Witz said he came up with the largest entertainment budget ever, because it is the festival’s 20th year.

“To ensure we offer the most premier schedule of musical performers in the festival’s history, we spent $100,000 over and above previous years’ entertainment budget,” Witz said, adding that he ended up spending more than $500,00 this year just on entertainment.

More than 200 musical acts will perform on nine stages throughout the festival footprint.

Bands taking the Michigan Lottery National Main Stage will include The B-52’s, Candlebox, 311, Jordan Davis, Dwight Yoakam, Grand Funk Railroad, The Wallflowers and George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars.

Other musical acts performing throughout the weekend will include Your Generation in Concert, Jena Irene, Avalon Black, Thornetta Davis, Killer Flamingos, 50 Amp Fuse, Crashing Cairo, The Ruiners, Bobby Murray Band featuring Lenny Watkins, Sean Blackman’s In Transit and Mark Reitenga & Bobbie East.

From noon to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, families may visit the Kids Zone for hands-on science activities and live demonstrations including Rosco the Clown, Pure Imagination Magic, puppet shows, jugglers and several other kid-focused interactive shows. A performance by the Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music will kick off the festivities on the family-friendly stage.

Witz reminds everyone to make sure they arrive hungry.

“Festivalgoers can find an abundance of fresh new food options with more than 40 restaurants, caterers and food trucks offering everything from vegan dishes to pierogis to barbecue to tacos and more,” he said. 

Some of the food vendors will include Sedona Taphouse, Bonefish Grill, Lazy Bones Smokehouse, ABE Veggie Cafe, The Nosh Pit, Cafe Muse, Lockhart’s BBQ, Treat Dreams and the Soaring Eagle Cuisine Machine.

The festival wouldn’t be complete without the arts.

“We are thrilled to be part of the 20 year tradition of celebrating the arts in a cool, urban setting like Royal Oak,” Ford Arts, Beats & Eats Art Director Lisa Konikow said in a statement. “Our mission is to present the best art, music and food in Oakland County, and this year, the Juried Fine Art Show delivers just that.

The juried fine arts show — featuring artists from across the nation — will take place on Seventh Street between Lafayette and Washington avenues; on Washington Avenue between Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue; and on Lincoln Avenue between Washington Avenue and Center Street. Participants will compete for more than $7,000 in cash awards.

The artists will showcase their works in a variety of mediums including ceramics, digital art, drawing, fabric, fiber, leather, glass, graphics, printmaking, jewelry, metal, mixed media 2-D, mixed media 3-D, painting, photography, sculpture and wood.

Festivalgoers will have the opportunity to admire and purchase original works of art at more than 135 artist booth spaces.

“It has been a pleasure over the years to watch the amazing growth of arts and cultural diversity at Ford Arts, Beats & Eats,” Konikow stated. “I encourage everyone, including serious art collectors and enthusiasts, to come celebrate with us and join in the fun.”

Other notable activities taking place throughout the weekend will include the Priority Health Practice for a Purpose and Zumbathon Celebration, and the fifth annual Family Days presented by Kroger and the Autism Alliance of Michigan,

Flagstar Bank partnered with Ford Arts, Beats and Eats again this year to host the seventh annual food drive benefiting Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan.

Anyone who brings three or more nonperishable food items to one of five local Flagstar Bank locations through Aug. 31 will receive one free admission to the festival.

Witz said that at the end of this festival, he anticipates the grand total in donations raised for local charities since the festival’s inception will have reached more than $5 million.

For more information, visit artsbeatseats.com.