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Royal Oak

Arts, Beats & Eats 2014 to highlight downtown as ‘Hair City’

June 11, 2014

» click to enlarge «
Stacy Wells, owner of L’Esprit Academy, talks about Arts, Beats & Eats during a press conference June 11 at Pronto! in Royal Oak as Samantha Dougherty models a Matt Richmond-designed paper dress.

To better involve businesses that otherwise have not benefited from the downtown hosting Arts, Beats & Eats, organizers of the Labor Day weekend festival announced June 11 that a new event would feature several of the city’s hair salons.

“The City of Royal Oak doesn’t have cars, and we certainly don’t have money,” said Mayor Jim Ellison, referring to the Ford vehicles on display each year and the donations made to charities by some of the sponsors. “But we do have hair salons.”

Dubbed Hair City, the feature will aim to highlight the city as metro Detroit’s epicenter of fashion and to provide free publicity for the local businesses.

“The festival has positively impacted many businesses,” said Jonathan Witz, the event producer.

He named bars, restaurants and retail shops as examples of businesses that thrive thanks to the festival taking place during what would otherwise be a slow holiday weekend.

“I think the hair salons have been one that hasn’t necessarily gotten that positive business spillover,” Witz said.

The six participating downtown salons will put on 24 hair shows with models on multiple stages, and there will be mannequin model exhibits placed on street corners during the festival.

In addition to helping highlight the salons downtown, Witz said the presentations are “self-serving” in that they’ll add a unique element to Arts, Beats & Eats.

“The entertainment they’re bringing is unique, has not been done at a festival before, and fits in with the arts theme,” Witz said. “This is going to be very artistic.”

Other announcements

The salon shows were one of several events and spectacles announced for the 17th annual music and arts festival.

Ford Motor Co. announced that the 2015 Ford Mustang — the 50th year for the muscle car — and the aluminum Ford F-150 will be on display during the festival, well before they’ll be seen in dealerships across the country.

“These are fantastic, groundbreaking vehicles that are sure to gather crowds,” said Mike O’Brien, Ford Motor Co. Detroit regional sales manager.

Organizers also announced the return of the FirstMerit Community Challenge, an initiative where charities compete to raise the most funds for Arts, Beats & Eats using the website

The organization that raises the most receives a $20,000 donation on top of what they receive from Arts, Beats & Eats following the event.

It is the second year for the challenge, and organizers say it largely contributed to last year’s record combined donations of $385,000.

Altogether, Arts, Beats & Eats has raised $4.5 million for regional charities.

“We hope to set a new record this year by getting Arts, Beats & Eats officially over the $5 million mark in overall collections,” said Pat Reardon, senior vice president of FirstMerit Bank Michigan.

Art poster contest

Returning again this year is a call to all artists with a knack for design. Organizers are offering a chance to win $1,000 by creating this year’s official festival poster.

According to a press release, entrants should email a JPEG or PDF to by July 11.

All entries should be 18 inches by 24 inches and at a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. The design should incorporate the Ford logo, the Arts, Beats & Eats website domain name, the tagline “Celebrating Art, Music, Food & Family,” the dates of this year’s event — Aug. 29 through Sept. 1, and the location in downtown Royal Oak.

All artwork must be the sole property of the artist. The final design will be chosen by the chairman of the Southeast Michigan Ford Dealers and will be approved by Ford Arts, Beats & Eats.

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