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Monday, 12 September, 2011 8:01 AM
REVIEW: Over 330,000 people attend the Ford Arts, Beats & Eats in Royal Oak
ROYAL OAK, Mich. -- More than 330,000 people showed up to take part in Royal Oak’s 2nd annual Labor Day tradition, Ford Arts, Beats & Eats. The exact number of festival attendees is about 335,000 people, down from last year’s attendance figures of 423,000. Although that is down from last year, it was still higher than the festival’s last year in Pontiac, which saw 225,000 festival goers.
“They used to have this in Pontiac and now it’s in Royal Oak and I think it’s a lot better,“ said attendee Jake Converry from Harrison Twp., Mich. “There’s a lot more vendors out here, they’re having wine tasting over there with Robert Mondavi, which is pretty cool. A couple of my friends’ bands are playing, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas. I got to help them set up some music tonight. It’s a hot day, its beautiful. I love coming out here walking around. I have a lot of friends working these events.“
The festival ran from Sept. 2 through 5 and is still expected to raise between $150,000 and $200,000 for dozens of nonprofit and cultural organizations. They are sharing gate admissions, beverage proceeds, parking fees and sponsorships along with the monies collected at the Arts du Jour charity preview event.
“This is like my millionth time, just kidding, ever since I can remember,” said festival goer Anna Stevenson from Pontiac, Mich. “It’s different, it’s finally not in Pontiac so it seems a little nicer. That’s so bad to say. The art is always cool. There’s a couple pieces that I like. I will probably come back again without my kids. I’ve got them bossing me around. For my kids, the fair is always great. I haven’t tried the food yet, but it’s always good. The music is really good.“
Attendees braved the above-average temperatures on Friday as well as a severe thunderstorm on Saturday. Sunday was the best day of the festival in terms of the weather. Temperatures dropped to about 60 degrees on Labor Day Monday, which required most folks to bring out their coats for the first time this year.
“This is my first time here,“ said attendee Theresa Macatangay from Troy, Mich. “I think I love it, it’s awesome. We’re probably going to buy some artwork later on. We had the corn dogs and now we’re eating the ice cream. We haven’t seen the music yet. It’s kind of hot, but we’re having so much fun.“
Festival Producer Jon Witz should allow the festival to remain profitable again this year, after all expenses are paid. He added that the city of Royal Oak should be able to pay for its police and fire protection from the parking revenue.
“This is my fourth time coming,“ said festival goer Marieta Gainer from Royal Oak, Mich. “I think it’s more fun this year because I think they added more space. A lot of stuff to see. Last year, it was like not enough space. This year, it’s bigger. We ate first and now we’re going to be doing some walking later. There was Cuban music last year, that was fun.“
One of the disadvantages by hosting Arts, Beats and Eats in Royal Oak is the parking problem. While parking only cost $5 or $10 when the festival was held in Pontiac, it was $10 or $15 to park in Royal Oak. First, the $10 parking option with a shuttle was not operating on Friday. It only ran the other three days. That turned a few festival goers away since it did run on the first day last year. In addition, parking lots with meters were charging a flat rate of $15.
“This is my first time exhibiting at this location,“ said ceramics artist Miky Cunningham from West Des Moines, Ia. “I have done it the very first year in Pontiac. Most of my work is dishwasher and microwave safe. I use a wood ash glaze on all of my pieces. I save my ashes from my wood-burning stove and spray them on all of my pieces. At any given time, I could be working on five different things. My highest range here is $800 and my lowest is $10, very affordable. Sales have been a little slow with the heat and everything. I think we’re expecting a huge turnout.“
The festival boasted the largest music line-up in recent years with a total of 11 music stages. Vince Gill, George Clinton, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Bret Michaels were among this year’s headliners. Michaels shared some of his stage time with Saving Abel, a band whose timeslot was canceled due to inclement weather.
“We’ve been doing it on and off for about 10 years,“ said glass artist Collette Fortin from Celina, Ohio. “We won the Best of Show last year and we’re back again this year. We’ve got solid glass sculptures. All of the pieces are made of glass, they have gold and platinum in them. Also, there’s gemstones in them. They are solid sculpture, we don’t blow the glass. We assemble two or three a day. The big pieces me and my husband collaborate. We have pieces that are in the $30s and $40s and on up to the thousands. The sales are moving along. We’re getting a lot of people, a lot of interest. So far, so good.“
While most people in southeast Michigan are struggling to make ends meet, it is no surprise that attendance was lower. For a single individual to attend Arts, Beats & Eats, it cost as much as $28 including admission, parking and food/drink tickets. On the other hand, the Detroit Jazz Festival was completely free.
“I did Arts, Beats and Eats last year and I did the original one in Pontiac,“ said wood artist Richard Peterson from Rockford, Mich. “My wife and I work together on a variety of items. She works in ceramics and I work in wood. I help her design some of the pieces. She helps me with the other clay pieces, which are hanging on the wall. We try to capture some images. We look through magazines and portraits. The largest piece here is $1,200. Some of the smaller masks are $20. Sales are pretty good considering the temperature and the fact that it’s still early in the day. We’ve had a good crowd come through. Even though everybody doesn’t buy everything, it’s nice to get the smiles and the reaction.“
Photo credit: ©Ken Settle
Hunter Hayes performing at Ford Arts, Beats & Eats.
Photo credit: ©Ken SettleVince Gill was the headliner on Sept. 4, 2011.
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