Arts, Beats & Eats festival replaced by virtual, distanced entertainment options amid pandemic

Royal Oak’s annual Labor Day weekend festival canceled due to coronavirus pandemic

Crowds are packing the Arts, Beats and Eats Festival Sunday, Sept. 2, 2019.
Crowds are packing the Arts, Beats and Eats Festival Sunday, Sept. 2, 2019.

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Metro Detroit’s annual Arts, Beats & Eats festival has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, officials announced Wednesday.

The Royal Oak festival reoccurs every Labor Day weekend, featuring exactly what it’s named for -- art for sale, live music and food vendors.

“Oakland County and the State of Michigan have been doing a great job and we’ve been following the lead of health officials. We respect the Governor’s decisions for public safety,” said event producer Jon Witz. “Taking into account current executive orders on attendance for local gatherings, and the six-week planning window to pull off the festival, along with the unlikelihood that orders would dramatically change, it’s very clear that there is no path for Arts, Beats & Eats in 2020.”

Though the event is canceled, organizers are still preparing to offer a musical experience during Labor Day Weekend. “The Beats Go on” initiative will host virtual concerts in addition to live drive-in concerts in an effort to raise $500,000 for local musicians.

Officials say more than 400 bands across 15 genres will perform virtually between Aug. 27-Sept. 3. Bands will get to keep any funds that they raise from their performance.

Details for virtual performances will be shared in the coming weeks, organizers say.

Between Sept. 4-7 a series of live, limited-occupancy drive-in concerts will be held in Downtown Royal Oak. Organizers say there will be up to five 30-minute performances on each day, with room for 50 vehicles per show. Tickets will cost $30 and will permit two people per vehicle.

“We applaud the commitment to work closely with our health department on entertainment plans, and the creativity to help musicians,” said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter. “I know so many of our local musicians have been severely impacted because of the pandemic, with most events and performances canceled. We see you, and value your work in our community, and we will work together to get through this together.”

Event organizers are also planning to offer “Art by Appointment” in which patrons can schedule time to visit with artists and purchase their work.

“People are looking for creative ways to connect during this unprecedented time and music is a common bond that brings people together -- while allowing them to stay physically distant,” Witz said. “I think we’ve found a fun solution.”

More detailed information can be found on the Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats & Eats website here.

Related: Four ways to support artists when there is no Ann Arbor Art Fair

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