Bigger, better and “off the charts” is how organizers of the 20th annual Ford Arts, Beats & Eats describe the 2017 Labor Day weekend festival.
Organizers, sponsors and others involved with the Sept. 1-4 event gathered inside Fifth Avenue June 14 in downtown Royal Oak to offer a preview.
“We will be announcing the most … amazing and expensive music lineup to celebrate our 20th anniversary that we have ever had,” said event producer Jon Witz, adding that the lineup will be revealed later this summer. “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 it will be the festival’s best miscellaneous lineup too, if you add the “amazing” gaming and other experiences that Ford Arts, Beats & Eats will offer.
“I can just tell you without a doubt this festival will be off the charts and rival any event in the United States and around the world,” he said.
Michael Gingell, chair of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, said it is hard to believe it has been 20 years since Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson came up with the idea.
“I have to be honest that my favorite part of Arts, Beats & Eats is what it really does for the community and for Oakland County,” Gingell said.
Since its inception, Ford Arts, Beats & Eats has provided $4.8 million in donations to local charities. Witz said he looks forward to watching that number surpass the $5 million mark this year.
Gingell said projections show this year’s event will have a $10 million economic impact on downtown Royal Oak and a $25 million impact on the region.
This September marks the eighth year the event will be held in Royal Oak after being held previously in Pontiac.
“Royal Oak has been a great venue for this event thanks in most part to the great leadership that you have down here with your city, and also with individuals like the mayor, who is here today supporting these types of cultural events, and supporting us at the Board of Commissioners to get involved,” Gingell said.
Keeping in line with the bigger and better theme for the anniversary, Raul Venegas, director of marketing and entertainment for Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, said the casino will be increasing its festival footprint and adding gaming to the long weekend offerings.
The Soaring Eagle Casino on 6th will offer gaming competitions for prizes, including blackjack, roulette, craps and the big wheel, free to those 21 and older.
“And the best part is, participants can only win at this Soaring Eagle Casino on 6th,” Venegas said. “There is no losing.”
The gaming tent will also be air-conditioned, which Venegas said literally will make it the coolest spot in the festival.
Soaring Eagle will also sponsor the rock stage, cuisine machine and Native American artwork from the Ziibiwing Cultural Center.
In the eats department, some of the new restaurants will include Carrabba's, Bonefish Grill, Sedona Taphouse and Peking Express.
Once again, Flagstar Bank will be the presenting bank sponsor.
“We take community very, very seriously and are proud to be a part of this,” said Andrew Ottaway, Flagstar Bank executive vice president and Michigan market president.
Flagstar will be featuring Culture on 4th, an international stage that organizers are describing as having the most diverse lineup in the event. Culture on 4th will spotlight local cultural organizations through visual and performing arts.
Anyone interested in free admission into Ford Art, Beats & Eats can bring three nonperishable food items to any Flagstar bank location in exchange for one ticket. The food will be donated to Gleaners Community Food Bank.
“We’re hoping actually to collect 10,000 pounds of food to support this very worthy cause in Metro Detroit,” Ottaway said.
Priority Health is also on board again this year hosting it’s annual Zumbathon; the Zumbathon attracted 1,500 participants last year.
New this year, Priority Health announced, will be Practice for a Purpose — two yoga classes presented by Thrive Hot Yoga and Citizen Yoga. Thrive will host a group hot yoga class with proceeds benefitting Spina Bifida Association of Michigan, and Citizen Yoga will host a Vinyasa and slow burn group class benefiting Humble Design.
The Priority Health healthy options program will return this year, adding two new participating eateries — GreenSpace Cafe and The Nosh Pit Detroit.
“We look forward to great times and great health this Labor Day weekend,” said Mike Jasperson, Priority Health vice president of the east region.
Mayor Michael Fournier said he looks forward to this year’s event.
“It’s really become one of the key elements in the tapestry of what we call Royal Oak,” Fournier said.