The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe ensemble performs an honor song during an Arts, Beats & Eats press event at Oakland Community College in Royal Oak June 4.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe ensemble performs an honor song during an Arts, Beats & Eats press event at Oakland Community College in Royal Oak June 4.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Officials announce changes to Arts, Beats & Eats

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published June 11, 2019

 Ben Machesky, of Brownstown Township,  displays his  artwork at the press event.

Ben Machesky, of Brownstown Township, displays his artwork at the press event.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Festival  producer Jon Witz discusses Arts, Beats & Eats during a press event at Oakland Community College in Royal Oak June 4.

Festival producer Jon Witz discusses Arts, Beats & Eats during a press event at Oakland Community College in Royal Oak June 4.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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ROYAL OAK — Arts, Beats & Eats, the four-day Labor Day festival now in its 22nd year, will return to the heart of downtown Royal Oak Aug. 30-Sept. 2.

On June 4, organizers held a press event to announce a name change and new features, and to ramp up excitement with a Native American drum and dance performance at Oakland Community College in Royal Oak.

For the last nine years, the festival has been called Ford Arts, Beats & Eats; however, Ford Motor Co. announced that it would no longer continue its title sponsorship. Organizers announced that, for the next three years, it will be called Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats & Eats.

This is the first time the title sponsor has not been from the automotive realm.

The festival will be open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Aug. 30-Sept. 1 and 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sept. 2, filling the streets with a juried fine art fair, more than 200 bands and live performances on nine stages, and more than 40 local food vendors, including new addition Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian steakhouse located in Troy.

The art fair will include a wide array of mediums, including ceramics, digital arts, drawing, fabric/fiber/leather, glass, graphics and printmaking, jewelry, metal, mixed media, painting, photography, sculpture and wood.

The festival annually attracts approximately 350,000 visitors.

A new feature this year is Upbound with Art, sponsored by Delta Dental, which will showcase the work of four Michigan artists with autism.

“(Not only will they be selling their) paintings, photography, handcrafted jewelry and more,” said Margaret Trimer-Hartley, Delta Dental director of corporate communications and corporate citizenship, “they will also be coached in the business and entrepreneurship principles of displaying, selling and learning to take their talents to other events.”

One of those artists, Ben Machesky, of Brownstown Township, set up a table with his artwork. He said he was excited for the opportunity for festivalgoers to see his creativity.

“I draw both animals and Detroit icons,” he said. “I mainly use charcoal or pastel.”

Trimer-Hartley said Delta Dental also would bring back Family Days for children with autism and their families. They will be treated to free parking, admission, lunch and unlimited carnival rides for the first three days of the festival.

“On those first three days, the festival will exclusively open one hour early to help amazing kids deal with the sometimes aggressive environment of large crowds,” she said.

Another addition will be an interactive first responder experience, courtesy of Oakland Community College, which has first responder training programs. 

The experience will include a driving simulator used by first responder students in training; police, fire and EMS agencies; as well as the opportunity to interact with the college’s new fire truck and other vehicles.

Culture on 4th, a returning staple sponsored by Flagstar Bank, will provide space for cultural organizations to present visual and performing arts, including musical performances. The bank will sponsor the festival’s annual food drive, benefiting Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan.

Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort will bring back its Soaring Eagle Cuisine Machine, a 36-foot trailer serving dishes found at the casino, and it will also set up its gaming tent at Sixth Street and Washington Avenue.

From 10 to 11:30 a.m. Aug. 31, the long-standing Priority Health Zumbathon will take place on the Michigan Lottery Stage. It will feature the festival’s first-ever “dance fitness concert” by Watatah, an international urban recording artist, according to a festival press release.

“It’s hard to believe that we’re celebrating the 22nd year,” Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Dave Woodward, D-Royal Oak, said. “I don’t think I missed one in all those years.”

He added that he was thrilled when the festival moved from Pontiac to Royal Oak 10 years ago.

“This is the greatest summer party in all of southeast Michigan. We want people from far and wide to come experience culture, art and music in a way you can’t anywhere else,” Woodward said. “We’re looking forward to the best one yet.”

Festival producer Jon Witz credited the city of Royal Oak for doing an “incredible job in all aspects.”

“In our 22 years, we never had a major incident or injury, and that is due to great planning, great public service and great police,” he said.

In its lifespan, Arts, Beats & Eats has donated approximately $5.5 million to local charities, according to officials.

Festival admission costs $3 until 3 p.m., $5 after 3 p.m. and $7 after 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31 through Monday, Sept. 1. On Friday, Aug. 30, the festival is free to enter until 5 p.m. and the cost of admission after 5 p.m. is $5.

For more information, visit www.artsbeatseats.com or call (248) 541-7550.

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

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