By Zach Childree
The city of Royal Oak is gearing up for its annual Arts, Beats and Eats festival on Labor Day weekend.
“There are so many amazing things happening at the event this year,” said Jonathan Witz, producer of the festival. “You didn’t think it could go to another level, but you’ll see that it does.”
The festival boasts 250 entertainment acts this year, up 50 from last year. Among the acts performing on the 11 stages around the city are Poison front man and “Rock of Love” star Bret Michaels, alternative rock band Panic! At The Disco, country singer Vince Gill, George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars as well as ’80s rock band Starship and the swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The festival will also feature local band Devin Scillian & the Arizona Suns and indie favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Bringing the “eats” to the festival are nearly 70 restaurants, including Little Tree Sushi, Katana Japanese Steakhouse, Pronto! and Rangoli. The festival will also showcase the culmination of Holiday Market and Mirepoix Cooking School’s “The Duel,” in which chefs from around Metro Detroit compete in a culinary competition. Similar to the television show “Iron Chef,” the chefs will be given a secret ingredient to compose their dishes around. The final rounds will be held Friday, Sept. 2 and Sunday, Sept. 4.
Festival attendees can also help break a world record for the largest Zumba dance and exercise class. A representative from the Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to verify the record. Event organizers hope to gather more than 1,500 people together for the dance class.
“This is an exciting, high-energy activity to get people moving, have a great time and a chance to make history,” said Susan Stokely, a Zumba instructor and co-owner of Vibe Fit. The current record was set in April this year in Brownsfield, Texas, where 1,223 people gathered for a Zumba class.
Also new to this year’s festivities is the Citizens Bank Money Booth, where attendees will have a chance to be selected to step inside an 8-foot-tall wind tunnel booth and grab as much cash and prizes as they can before time runs out.
The festival will feature several activities for kids, including a Moonwalk and Kiddie Carnival. The Oakland County Parks Kids Stage, featuring Rosco the Clown, will also make an appearance, as will the Pure Imagination Magic Show and characters from Detroit Public Television.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said he hopes the Arts, Beats and Eats festival will be a good thing for the community in uncertain times. “We need something positive, something that is a fun diversion,” Brooks said. “Arts Beats and Eats has always offered that fun diversion. It can’t come quick enough.”