If event producer Jon Witz had one wish for the 15th Annual Arts, Beats & Eats festival in Royal Oak, it would probably be that the weather will be just as fabulous on Labor Day weekend as it was Wednesday.
From Pronto’s patio, Witz highlighted some of the new innovations to the Aug. 31-Sept. 3 event to community leaders, sponsors and the media, while singling out Mayor Jim Ellison and the city of Royal Oak for its warm hospitality, the ability to be flexible and masterful planning.
The four-day festival offers more than 200 performances on 10 stages, a highly ranked juried fine arts show, local restaurants and other regional and local attractions.
Arts, Beats & Eats is among Oakland County’s largest fundraisers, benefiting more than 60 nonprofit organizations this year. “We’ve raised $3.5 million for charities in the 14 years we’ve been around,” Witz said.
Beaumont Hospital’s Children’s Miracle Network will benefit from a new radiothon initiative named Soft Rock 105.1 Calls for Kids. Throughout the event, festival attendees as well as 105.1 listeners will have the opportunity to make donations to help kids at Beaumont.
Community collaboration is the theme of this year’s Arts, Beats & Eats with new partnerships with the autism and deaf communities.
This year, Arts, Beats & Eats teams up with Autism Alliance of Michigan and Autism Speaks to offer select families an all-access pass to the festival, said Tom Riopelle of Autism Speaks. In addition, both autism groups will be among the nonprofit beneficiaries of this year’s gate proceeds.
Also new this year is the addition of the Deaf Arts Festival, which will showcase artists who are hearing impaired.
The Boys & Girls Club of South Oakland County has been a charity recipient of Arts, Beats & Eats for three years.
“We’re very honored and proud to be a part of this event,” said Sally Owen, senior vice president of development at Boys & Girls Club. Owen said the club organizes volunteers for the gates for ticket taking and putting on wristbands.
Priority Health will sponsor a Zumbathon celebration for the first time that will benefit Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.
“We hope to have 1,000 participants,” said Don Whitford of Priority Health. “We will also have an Arts in Motion 5K that will benefit the Michigan Youth Art Council, which is located here in Royal Oak and we are still percolating a few other ideas.”
New restaurants join the mix
New restaurants will join the roster of what organizers hope will be more than 70 restaurants, caterers and dining attractions in this year’s festival.
Newcomer Gemmayze, a Lebanese restaurant in downtown Royal Oak, welcomes the opportunity.
“We’re planning out our menu for the event now,” said Douglas Runyon, managing partner at Gemmayze. “We’re very excited to be involved. We’re located right around the corner and we are trying to be a part of the community.”
Bastone Brewery, Hamlin Corners pub, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Beans and Cornbread, Slab and Slice and the Polish Village Café are also participating this year.
Music remains a mystery
One thing that was not announced Wednesday was the music lineup; that information comes the first week of August.
“You will be thrilled with our lineup,” Witz said.
Approximately 335,000 visitors attended Arts, Beats & Eats in 2011. Fans of the event can follow the festival on Facebook or Twitter at @artbeatseats. For additional information visit www.artsbeatseats.com or call 248-334-4600.