Ferndale High band gets big donation from Arts, Beats & Eats

By: Mike Koury, Sarah Wojcik | Woodward Talk | Published October 8, 2019

 Drummers from the Ferndale High School marching band perform at last year’s Michigan Competing Band Association state championship at Ford Field. The band recently was the recipient of a $4,400 donation from Arts, Beats & Eats.

Drummers from the Ferndale High School marching band perform at last year’s Michigan Competing Band Association state championship at Ford Field. The band recently was the recipient of a $4,400 donation from Arts, Beats & Eats.

File photo by Donna Agusti

Advertisement

ROYAL OAK/FERNDALE — On Oct. 2, Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats & Eats, presented by Flagstar Bank, announced the grand total that this year’s festival awarded to its more than 50 local charity partners — $233,049.26, a 12% increase from last year.

Representatives from the charities gathered at Flagstar Bank’s corporate headquarters in Troy to accept their checks. A multitude of sources contributed to the funds, including gate admission fees, beverage proceeds and festival-sponsored community initiatives.

“All the nonprofits here today earned their check, not only by doing good work in the community every day, but specifically helping put our festival on,” said Raul Venegas, Soaring Eagle’s executive director of marketing, entertainment and sales. “The organizations here today provide critical volunteers, important parking lots and other key resources to make our event possible.”

The four-day event annually attracts approximately 350,000 visitors and includes a juried art fair, 190 live musical performances and more than 40 local food vendors. It began in Pontiac in 1998 and moved to downtown Royal Oak 10 years ago.

“This really is Oakland County’s sort of end-of-summer celebration, and what a celebration it has become over 22 years now,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said.

Coulter also took a moment to recognize his predecessor, the late L. Brooks Patterson, who co-founded the festival. Patterson died Aug. 3 at age 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

“I know how proud he was of this event and to watch it grow over the years,” Coulter said. “To see it become an event that raised almost a quarter of a million dollars for our local charities is just amazing.”

Apart from the $233,049.26 total donation, $65,250 in proceeds from beverage sales went to 23 participating charitable and cultural groups. One of those groups was the Ferndale High School marching band.

Parents, staff and some students of the band helped run one of the beverage tents at the festival all weekend, something they’ve done for the last several years. In turn, they received a $4,400 donation that will go into the band’s general fund to help run its program, said band director Elon Jamison.

“It’s expensive to do what we do,” he said. “Our annual budget just for the marching band is usually $100,000.”

The band’s budget for a year includes paying around 16 people on the staff and paying fees in order to arrange copyrighted music for performances. It also includes sending the students to band camp each year, an experience Jamison called “valuable.”

“It allows the students to get away from home, to have that transformative camp experience, to be able to focus just on band and their peers in the band for a week,” he said.

While some of the budget is paid with member dues, Jamison said they don’t “ever want the life-changing experience that is the marching band to be unavailable to kids because of the cost.” So the band participates in multiple fundraisers each year, of which Arts, Beats & Eats is one of the big ones.

“It makes a big difference,” he said of the donation. “We couldn’t do what we do if it weren’t for this chunk of change, along with other donations.”

According to organizers, Arts, Beats & Eats has donated nearly $5.5 million to charitable organizations since its inception.

For more information about the festival, visit www.artsbeatseats.com or call (248) 334-4600.

Advertisement