ROYAL OAK, Mich. — The 20th annual Ford Arts, Beats and Eats festival is underway right now in downtown Royal Oak. More than 300,000 people are expected to attend the annual event which features a juried art fair, live music from national acts and over 40 of metro Detroit’s finest restaurants.
Upon entering the festival, attendees can donate money to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Volunteers are accepting dollar bills and spare change at each of the festival entrances.
Let’s begin with the art. The juried fine art show is featured at the southern edge of the festival. It features more than 135 booths in various mediums such as fabric and fiber, painting, ceramics, photography, wood, digital art, glass, jewelry and metal, sculptures and more. Cash prizes totaling $7,500 will be awarded to the top artists at the conclusion of the festival.
“I have bronze sculptures–some of them are funny and some of them are abstract,” said artist Kimber Fiebiger from Minneapolis. “I have lots of ideas. A lot of them I haven’t even gotten to. I tell people it takes eight to 12 weeks for the small ones and it could be up to nine months for the large ones. Humpty Dumpty is my inspiration.”
Fiebiger also created a sculpture of Donald Trump which gained lots of attention among the attendees. Hundreds of people stopped by to take pictures and selfies with the sculpture.
“Yes, it’s Trumpty Dumpty. Trumpty Dumpty built a wall. Trumpty Dumpty democracy falls. All of the kind women and all of the smart men need to put America together again. The day after the election I had a feeling that our country was in for a little run here. A little bit of trouble. Being an artist, you have to be an activist. It’s been getting a lot of positive attention. People like it.”
More than 40 of metro Detroit’s finest restaurants brought their specialties to Ford Arts, Beats and Eats. Everything from American to Greek to Italian to Mexican to Polish was available for purchase. There were also low fat, gluten free and low carb options for health conscious festival goers.
“We have whole wings, honey BBQ, boneless wings, we have macaroni and cheese,” said Tiffany Farris with B.L. Ellis Catering. “We also have Italian sausages and buffalo boneless wings. This is my aunt’s business and she’s been here for a while. The buffalo is going like crazy and the macaroni. We also have homemade banana pudding which is also great, delicious.”
The Milk Mustache tour made its first-ever appearance at Ford Arts Beats and Eats. They are offering samples of milk and iced coffee. Garden Fresh Salsa is passing out free samples of its new mango salsa and chips along with hummus for all to enjoy.
“The food is really good, we haven’t looked at anything yet,” said attendee Kathryn Hedenquist from Royal Oak. “We had the butterfly fries and those were so good. I guess I don’t know what’s going on here later. But we’re here to stick around. Definitely going to check out the artist booths. I’m into the art stuff. That’s what I came for an the food. The weather worked out really well.”
Her friend, Sam Cassel from Southfield, added: “I’m having a nice brat and she’s having a burger. I think we’re going to stick around a bit and see what else is going on. I know it’s a nice day so we’re going to take advantage of it. It could have been nice to be at the lake as well, but this is a nice alternative.”
Also new this year, Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort has a casino tent where adults 21 and over can play roulette craps blackjack and spin to win. Meanwhile, kids had the opportunity to make their own arts and crafts and take them home, courtesy of Kroger.
“It’s pretty cool, a lot of stuff to look at for sure,” said Kevin Kerner from New Baltimore. “We haven’t really made it all the way around yet. I had the Cajun stuff jambalaya and seafood pasta. We’ll probably go back and get some art on the way out just after seeing it all and deciding. It’s one of the better things to do. Either here or go out of town or something.”
His friend, Kelly Picmann from New Baltimore, added: “It’s pretty good. I enjoy coming every year. I’m eating a barbecue pulled pork sandwich. It’s really good. We’ve been listening to the bands as we go up and down. They all sound really good. We went through all of the artists. There’s amazing art here, everything is really cool. I love all of the different types of art here.”
Live music is being offered on nine stages throughout the festival. Headliners like The B-52s, Candlebox, 311, Dwight Yoakam, Grand Funk Railroad, The Wallflowers and George Clinton and P-Funk All-stars are performing on the Michigan Lottery National Stage. Other bands are located on smaller stages on the streets of downtown Royal Oak.
The 20th annual Ford Arts, Beats & Eats presented by Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, is Oakland County’s premier festival held September 1 – 4, 2017. The festival paints downtown Royal Oak with a variety of art, food and music for the community to enjoy. More than 415,000 visitors attended the 2016 Ford Arts, Beats & Eats. “LIKE” artsbeatseats on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @artsbeatseats. For additional public information, visit www.artsbeatseats.com or call 248-541-7550.