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New Rock ’N’ Rides festival coming to downtown Royal Oak

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published June 18, 2019

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ROYAL OAK — A new festival will bookend the beginning of summer in Royal Oak and benefit more than 20 nonprofits and community organizations.

Rock ’N’ Rides will bring an 18-ride carnival, a block party, bands, food, a kids stage and more to downtown Royal Oak Thursday, June 20, through Sunday, June 23.

“Rock ’N’ Rides Royal Oak is an amazing opportunity to bring the community together to support the charitable and community organizations that positively impact the lives of our neighbors and have a whole lot of fun at the same time,” Metro Detroit Youth Clubs CEO Brett Tillander said in a prepared statement. “We’d like to invite everyone out to learn about the great work of these organizations. We hope to see this festival continue for years to come.”

Event producer Jon Witz said the event came to be because the carnival that had always been at Detroit River Days was available, as River Days moved to new grounds that were not as supportive structurally and would instead feature one of the largest food truck rallies in the country.

“So we had an opportunity to have a carnival in metro Detroit and save that from going somewhere else,” Witz said. “The carnival became the main genesis of the event, and when trying to figure out names, we knew we did some things with rock music for Arts, Beats & Eats.”

He said the city leadership was receptive to the idea, and that the event would have its own flavor apart from Arts, Beats & Eats.

“(The carnival) will be bigger than the one at Arts, Beats & Eats, so it will really be the focus,” Witz said. “There are some really nice rides.”

The carnival will include the Cliffhanger, Ring of Fire, Scrambler, Star Dancer, Vertigo, Tornado, Red Baron, Tilt-A-Whirl, Flivver, Century Wheel, State Fair Slide, Traffic Jam Fun House, Monster Truck, Toon Town, Wet Boat, Jumpin’ Jumbos, Tinsel Town and a zip line.

“There are a lot of fun things to do. It’ll be very colorful and light up the downtown,” Witz said. “We also have a kids stage, free arts and crafts, some great food, and for adults, we have music going on 24/7.”

A block party on Fifth Avenue will include beer tasting from two Royal Oak breweries, ROAK Brewing Co. and River Rouge Brewing Co. 

He said the festival will take place on Center Street, between Fourth and Seventh streets; the parking lots off Main Street; Seventh, between Center and Main; Sixth Street, between Washington and Main; and Fifth, between Center and Washington.

“It really is probably about 25% the size of Arts, Beats & Eats,” Witz said.

On Thursday, June 20, Cornerstone Community Financial Credit Union will present a Community Day, in which nonprofits will host a kids fair and approximately 1,500 children with special needs and their families will enjoy free carnival wristbands and parking from 1 to 5 p.m.

Admission to the festival will be free all day June 20 and until 5 p.m. June 21. After that, the admission fee will be $5 and will be good for the entire weekend. Carnival wristbands can be purchased during the festival for $15 per person on June 20 and for $25 per person June 21-23. Individual tickets for rides range from $3 to $6, and the zip line will run June 21-23 for $10 per person.

For a full schedule of events, bands and kids activities, visit

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.