What to Check Out at This Year’s Arts, Beats & Eats Festival

Performances by Rise Against and Bobby Brown, a Zumbathon, eats from more than 50 restaurants and caterers, a juried art show, and more are planned for the annual Royal Oak event
Rise Against - Arts, Beats & Eats
Alternative rock band Rise Against plays Arts, Beats & Eats on Sept. 5. // Photograph courtesy of Jason Siegell

Because of the pandemic, Arts Beats & Eats organizers put the large Labor Day weekend bash on pause for 2020 and instead planned days of drive-in concerts, online performances, and “art by appointment” sessions. While the alternative events were successful — according to the Detroit Free Press, they raised more than $430,000 for local musicians — festival organizers are more than ready to return to their roots and deliver an exciting lineup of in-person entertainment, food options, and attractions and activities. “Since we were unable to hold the festival last year due to the pandemic, we wanted to rise to the occasion this year, and our team has stepped up to deliver a big-time event…,” says festival producer Jon Witz in a press release.

The 2021 Arts, Beats & Eats takes place in downtown Royal Oak from Sept. 3-6. Here’s a look at some of the things worth checking out at this year’s event.

Can’t-Miss Music

Taking to the Michigan Lottery National Stage at Arts, Beats & Eats this year is a standout lineup of acts. Detroit blues artist Thornetta Davis, and rock groups The Guess Who and Stone Temple Pilots perform on Sept. 3. Indie band Neon Trees takes the stage on Sept. 4, and country artist Justin Moore and alternative rock group Rise Against play on Sept. 5. Finally, local blues artist and former The Voice contestant Laith Al-Saadi and R&B and hip-hop artist Bobby Brown perform on Sept. 6. More acts, including plenty of local musicians and groups, perform at the festival’s other eight stages, which are dedicated to genres like alternative rock, country/Americana, and R&B. “We went for the music this year! Not only do we have some of the biggest names in our history, but we’ve been able to a hit home run with our local music lineup as well,” says Witz in a press release.  

Zumba On 

Get your heart rate up this Saturday morning. The festival’s main stage will transform into the supersized Priority Health Zumbathon from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. DJ Wax Tax N Dre will provide the tunes for the class, which will feature more than 150 local Zumba instructors from across the state. Tickets are $8 and include free parking and admission for two to the festival. Proceeds benefit Haven, an Oakland County nonprofit that supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

All The Art 

Featuring more than 100 booth spaces, the 2021 Beaumont Health Juried Fine Art Show will show work by artists from Michigan as well as Texas, California, Illinois, Florida, Arizona, and more. Among the festival’s new artists are Espacia Fotiu, a mixed media 2D creative from Warren; painter Carolyn Garay from Ypsilanti; glass artist Dustin Wagner from Springfield, Ohio; and watercolor and pen and ink artist Haylee McFarland from Whittier, California.

New Eats & Returning Restaurants 

There will be food and drink options from more than 50 restaurants and caterers at this year’s festival. Returning favorites include Crispelli’s, Sedona Taphouse, Café Muse, and Beans & Cornbread, while new additions to the food lineup include Mexican restaurant Tequila Blue and Imaginate, the recently opened Royal Oak fine-dining spot by Chef Omar Mitchell. “No matter what you are looking to feast on, whether it is savory barbecue, fresh green salads, mouthwatering desserts, or more, the variety of food trucks this year is sure to satisfy everyone,” says Witz in a press release.

Stroll Down Fourth

The Culture on Fourth program — presented by Flagstar Bank, and, yes, located on Fourth Street in Royal Oak — will be dedicated to celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion this year and highlight Black-, Indigenous-, and people of color-owned businesses. From Sept. 3-5, artist Anthony Lee will live paint a mural in the space. The program will also feature eats from Farmington chocolate shop Lekker Choco Treats, African food truck Fork in Nigeria, and the A Taste of Motown food truck, which serves up fries, salads, pita sandwiches, and more. Festival attendees can also check out sculptural photography from Austen Brantley and Dale Juan, fine jewelry from KAM Dynasty, and paintings and jewelry by Inty Muenala. 

For the Kids 

Family-friendly fun awaits in The Oakland County Parks Kids Zone. Little ones can enjoy free arts and crafts with Detroit nonprofit Arts and Scraps, free moonwalks, and a kiddie carnival with 10 rides. The Detroit Institute of Arts Kids Stage is also in the Kids Zone and will include four days of entertainment from the Detroit Circus, Michigan Science Center, and more.  

Additionally, families of children on the autism spectrum can participate in Family Days. Presented by the Autism Alliance of Michigan, the program gives one-day access passes — which includes free festival admission for up to five family members and other perks — to the first 550 registrants on Sept. 4, 5, and 6. The festival will also open an hour early so participating families can have free private access to the carnival. 

For more information — including hours and ticket prices — visit artsbeatsandeats.com