Arts, Beats & Eats kicks off with sunny skies

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published September 3, 2017

 A juried fine arts show takes place on Seventh Street between Lafayette and Washington; Washington between Seventh and Lincoln Avenue; and Lincoln between Washington and Center Street.

A juried fine arts show takes place on Seventh Street between Lafayette and Washington; Washington between Seventh and Lincoln Avenue; and Lincoln between Washington and Center Street.

Photo by Victoria Mitchell

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The sun shined brightly on opening day for the 20th annual Ford Arts, Beats & Eats festival happening downtown throughout Labor Day weekend.

A favorable weather forecast, record-breaking entertainment lineup and plethora of art and food all factor into what organizers think will make this year the highest-populated event since the festival debuted in Pontiac two decades ago. This September marks the eighth year the event will be held in Royal Oak after being held previously in Pontiac.

“We hope residents will take advantages of cooler temps and ride bikes, which are free to park, to the festival,” said Royal Oak Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids. “There is lots of family-friendly entertainment, including a kids’ zone, so it makes for a great day outing.”

Davids said every year the festival organizer asks the crowd in front of the main stage, “Who is from Royal Oak?”

“And he always gets a big response — like the majority of the crowd is our residents,” she said. “Whether they really are or not, we’re glad they are here and having fun.”

Event Producer Jon Witz is banking on the fact that plenty of Royal Oak residents and many more from throughout the state will head downtown this weekend for the nice weather and the more than $100,000 additional money spent on entertainment this year than in years past.

Headlining acts this year 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.

Plenty of other musical acts will round out the weekend performing on nine stages throughout the festival footprint through Monday night.

Greg Jablonski came to the festival Friday afternoon to watch his niece, Kate Jablonski, perform on the Ford Alternative Rock Stage.

“It’s such a beautiful day to come out,” he said.

Jablonski said he hadn’t been to the festival since it took place in Pontiac, and he was enjoying the Royal Oak atmosphere.

He was also proud of his niece.

“Oh yes, she’s great,” he said.

Plenty of people already filled the streets at noon on opening day, where all attendees were admitted for free until 5 p.m.

The smell of barbecue and other delicious treats wafted down Washington from more than 40 food vendors throughout the event.

Artists also filled the streets, showing and selling their creations.

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

“(I) guarantee you all that you will feel that this is our best music lineup, it will be our best restaurant lineup, it is our best cultural lineup, it is our best artist lineup, it is our best family lineup and it is our best healthy lineup,” Witz said before the event.

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