The Labor Day festival is organizing a contest to turn Royal Oak parking meters into artwork


The parking meters in downtown Royal Oak are about to get an eye-catching upgrade.

Local artists will have the opportunity to paint up to 150 parking meters for an inaugural program, Meters Made Beautiful, organized by the Ford Arts, Beats & Eats festival and Royal Oak Commission. The meters will be featured at the 19th annual festival, presented by Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, held Sept. 2-5 in Royal Oak.

Design proposals will be accepted online until July 21. The artists — who must be 18 or older — have a chance to compete for $4,000 in cash prizes, including $1,500 for first place, $1,000 for second and $500 for third. Winners will be chosen by festivalgoers and a jury. A kick off painting event will take place Aug. 27, and the meters will remain painted after the festival.

“Our city is a destination for great retail stores, restaurants and entertainment venues, and Meters Made Beautiful will be one more reason for visitors to experience what Royal Oak has to offer,” Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison said in a release.

Ford Arts, Beats & Eats attracts more than 350,000 people annually to the Labor Day weekend festival showcasing local art, music and food. Historically held in Pontiac, it will be the seventh year the festival takes place in Royal Oak.

“This quality of life celebration provides a significant economic boost to the region, and it’s just plain fun,” festival founder L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County executive, said in the release.

Besides food and entertainment, the festival will host fitness activities, like a community Zumba class on Sept. 3 at 10 a.m. Pre-registration is $7. The Priority Health Move to Beats 5K and 10K races through Royal Oak streets will also be held Sept. 3. The races — which cost $25 to $30 to enter and include two festival tickets — benefit the Rock CF Foundation, Life Time Foundation and Autism Alliance of Michigan.

In partnership with the nonprofit Autism Alliance of Michigan, the festival will also offer free one-day access — with free parking, rides and lunch — to children with autism and their families for the first 750 registrants Sept. 3-5. The festival will open one hour early those days to give families early access to the carnival.

With admission prices ranging $3 to $5, the event raised more than $255,800 for 60 charities and nonprofits last year. The festival has raised more than $4.5 million in the past 18 years.

The event’s annual food drive also provided Gleaners Community Food Bank with 2,635 meals to distribute last year. Attendees can receive one free admission by donating three or more nonperishable food items. Drop-off spots include Our Credit Union locations in Royal Oak and Troy Aug. 21-Sept. 2.

New this year, Ford Arts, Beats & Eats will include a social media-based scavenger hunt. Attendees who post a picture of, or with, scavenger hunt items on the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort’s Facebook page, and use the hashtag #ABEHunt16, will be entered to win prizes such as an overnight stay at the resort, round of golf for two at Waabooz Run and $150 spa and dining credits.

For the “eats” and “beats” portions of the festival, organizers are still coordinating the food and entertainment lineups. Local band submissions will be accepted online at until June 15.

(313) 222-2156


Ford Arts, Beats & Eats

When: Fri. to Sun. Sept. 2-4 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sept. 5 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Where: Downtown Royal Oak

Cost: Admission is $3 until 3 p.m. and $5 after 3 p.m. Saturday to Monday and free until 5 p.m. on Friday. Children under age 3 get in free. Food and beverage tickets are $10 for 16 tickets.


Read or Share this story: