During an Oct. 3 event at the Flagstar Bank corporate headquarters in Troy, speakers hold up an oversized check showing the $207,578.61 raised for local charities during Ford Arts, Beats & Eats.

During an Oct. 3 event at the Flagstar Bank corporate headquarters in Troy, speakers hold up an oversized check showing the $207,578.61 raised for local charities during Ford Arts, Beats & Eats.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Arts, Beats & Eats donates $207,000 to local charities

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published October 8, 2018

 Artist Wendy Popko, of Sterling Heights, receives a check from Flagstar Bank Senior Vice President Beth Correa and Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier for winning first place in the Meters Made Beautiful program during an event Oct. 3  at the Flagstar Bank corporate headquarters in Troy.

Artist Wendy Popko, of Sterling Heights, receives a check from Flagstar Bank Senior Vice President Beth Correa and Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier for winning first place in the Meters Made Beautiful program during an event Oct. 3 at the Flagstar Bank corporate headquarters in Troy.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Meters Made Beautiful first-place winner Wendy Popko, of Sterling Heights, won for this giraffe-themed meter, located at Main and Seventh streets.

Meters Made Beautiful first-place winner Wendy Popko, of Sterling Heights, won for this giraffe-themed meter, located at Main and Seventh streets.

Photo by Deb Jacques

ROYAL OAK — Ford Arts, Beats & Eats continued its tradition of charitable giving by awarding $207,578.61 to dozens of local charities.

The donated funds were raised through gate admission, beverage sales and community programming. Organizers said the Labor Day festival has donated more than $5.2 million to charities since its inception.

Co-founder Jon Witz said he is proud of the funds raised despite uncooperative weather. Last year, he said, the festival gave back approximately $275,000 to local charities.

“I would say heat played a factor, and there was rain on two days. In addition to that, there was the threat of rain throughout the weekend, but the fact that we had that and we had the turnout that we did is something we’re excited about,” he said.

Festival organizers dispersed the donations to charities during an event at the Flagstar Bank corporate headquarters in Troy Oct. 3.

Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier said during the event that the “little shining light” to the inclement weather was that a number of festivalgoers found their way into shops and supported local business.

“We’re always amazed and marvel at the sheer number of people that come, and the large crowds that peacefully gather and congregate in our downtown to enjoy great music, great food and, of course, see all the great artwork that’s available and on display,” Fournier said.

He added that $90,000 of the charitable donations from the festival benefited Royal Oak charities alone.

The city of Royal Oak paid $6,000 to nonprofit organizations, mainly churches, that supported festival parking operations, according to an Arts, Beats & Eats press release.

Through the Meters Made Beautiful project sponsored by Flagstar Bank, Witz said, the festival awarded more than $4,000 in prize money to the more than 40 artists who participated in this year’s program.

Artist Wendy Popko received the first-place prize for her giraffe-themed parking meter at Main and Seventh streets.

Organizers donated $5,000 to the Autism Alliance of Michigan, which has partnered with the festival for the last seven years to provide Family Days. The program allowed 2,350 children on the autism spectrum and their families to enjoy complimentary fun, entertainment and lunch before the festival opened to the public this year.

Yoga classes and a Zumbathon sponsored by Priority Health drew 550 and 1,600 participants, respectively, and along with fitness classes from Life Time Fitness raised approximately $20,000 for Haven, Life Time Foundation, Paws With A Cause and the Chika Fund.

In addition to monetary donations, food vendors supported local shelters through Kroger’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste program, and Forgotten Harvest distributed 3,120 pounds of unused food throughout the community, according to the press release.

A community food drive benefiting Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan also collected 4,210 pounds of food, which will provide more than 3,494 meals to those in need, according to the press release.

“We’re happy to have Arts, Beats & Eats in Oakland County to celebrate our quality of life while creating a positive financial boost to local businesses and supporting community groups,” Oakland County Executive and festival founder L. Brooks Patterson said in a statement.

Witz said Arts, Beats and Eats is “locked and loaded” in Royal Oak for the next three years, dispelling rumors that the festival would return to the city of Pontiac.

“We can’t wait to sign an extension to be there for many more,” he said. “There are some major, major positive changes that will be happening with the event.”

He said next year would include fresh partnerships, activities and programming, and in the years ahead, the layout of the festival itself is scheduled to change.

“(We’re discussing) moving the festival around the city of Royal Oak, around the downtown more,” Witz said. “Change is good and it’s fun and it keeps it fresh and it keeps folks coming out. You’re going to see a lot of it next year and in the years to come.”

For more information about Arts, Beats and Eats, visit artsbeatseats.com or call (248) 541-7550.