When then-Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson reached out to Jon Witz in 1998 to help organize a culinary event in Pontiac, Witz responded with a broader vision. The owner of Jonathan Witz & Associates marketing firm, Witz believed offerings like an art fair, concerts, and family activities could draw the community together in a bigger way.
Now, Arts, Beats, and Eats — celebrating its 25th annual event — is attracting more than 300,000 people each year and this September will feature 200 musical acts.
“The size and scope of the event have changed dramatically,” says Witz, now the festival’s owner and event producer. In 2010, the event moved to Royal Oak. While the art exhibits, rock concerts, and food trucks were initially all in the same space, now the festival separates art, creating “a more relaxed and uninterrupted art experience,” Witz says.
Today, Arts, Beats, and Eats has more food trucks than ever, and “the quality of national music has improved dramatically,” Witz says. Last year’s event featured Stone Temple Pilots, Gin Blossoms, The Guess Who, and Thornetta Davis. This year’s lineup will include Flo Rida, 311, Boston, and Fitz & The Tantrums.
Popular community events, like the Zumbathon and Family Days (where children with autiism and their families receive a one-day access pass), are also returning. This year’s Arts, Beats, and Eats is expected to raise over $300,000 for nonprofits.
Detroit native Vinnie Dombroski, lead singer of Sponge and longtime performer at Arts, Beats, and Eats, calls the festival “the end-of-summer celebration.”
Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats, and Eats will be open from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, through Sunday, Sept. 4, and 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 5. Admission is free before 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2, and $10 after 5 p.m. Every other day, admission is $5 before 3 p.m. and $10 after 3 p.m.; visit artsbeatseats.com for more information.
This story is from the September 2022 issue of Hour Detroit magazine.