Collective Soul performs at Arts, Beats & Eats on the National Stage Sept. 2.

Collective Soul performs at Arts, Beats & Eats on the National Stage Sept. 2.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Arts, Beats & Eats brings in hundreds of thousands

By: Mike Koury | Royal Oak Review | Published September 17, 2023


ROYAL OAK — The Arts, Beats & Eats festival took place Sept 1-4 in downtown Royal Oak, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to the event over the course of the Labor Day weekend.

Arts, Beats & Eats, headlined by, among others, Bell Biv DeVoe and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, was estimated to have brought 345,000 people to Royal Oak.

The numbers are down 7%, according to Event Producer Jon Witz, but that being said, he’s thrilled with how the festival turned out.

“We just got a lot of feedback on everything we did musically and some of our new attractions. We’re just very excited about the results of the events, and as far as the fundraising, we’re tabulating things up and we’re projecting a number that’s north of $300,000 for local nonprofits,” he said.

One of the big new additions to Arts, Beats & Eats this year was the sales and consumption of cannabis in a designated area on festival grounds put on by House of Dank. According to Witz, the cannabis sales and consumption area went off flawlessly.

“It was very understated. People couldn’t smell it, see it, yet the people that enjoyed it loved it,” he said. “We promised the city a program that would not change the nature of the festival but just kind of be a nice accoutrement, and we delivered on that. … I think that we showed many people that were looking at it that a cannabis consumption area lounge can be easily added to a mainstream event without changing its nature.”

Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier added that, while he didn’t get a chance to go inside the House of Dank tent, he was not aware of any incidents.

“There probably are some lessons learned in terms of making sure that there’s no mixed messages, that this event is about families, it’s about art, it’s about eats and it’s about beats,” he said. “I think that the novelty of the consumption area was an interesting dynamic this year, but I don’t think there were any significant concerns that came to fruition. But, for me, it was never a focal point of the event, nor it should be.

“(The City Commission will) do our debrief, we’ll always take input from venuegoers, businesses, the promoter, the police, and if there are any areas of improvement or any serious concerns that I have not been made privy to, we’ll address those with the public interest always first in mind.”

Witz highlighted other new elements this year, including a new mural, an exhibit on glass blowing and menu items curated by Baker College students.

This all was in addition to the live music that took over the festival grounds, which Witz felt took a big step up this year.

“The music got great reviews at the main stage and local stages,” he said. “So that was just really well received. Every night, our main stage concert area was at capacity and that was pretty cool.”

Fournier noted he heard a good amount of feedback from businesses and residents on how the event can be improved as well.

“Over 14 years, we’re always looking for continuous improvement,” he said. “We got a few ideas that we can look at for the next year to help other businesses, and other ideas from residents. But I would say, this year, great weather is a big part of it. It was a great atmosphere and it was so nice to have another successful Arts, Beats & Eats.”