Arts, Beats & Eats returns to Royal Oak with wholesome fun

The Detroit News Kids Zone hosts family-friendly entertainment to add to the event's music, food and fine art offerings

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

This story has been updated -- Foghat is performing Friday in place of Starship.

Between art-lovers, music fans and people who like to eat, the annual Arts, Beats & Eats festival in downtown Royal Oak can capture the attention of just about anybody. 

This year's event is upping the offerings when it comes to the "eats," has a new line-up of headlining music acts and has also increased the family-friendly programming. Much of the latter will be going down in The Detroit News Kids Zone, which has a new location this year on Center street between Third and Fourth. 

ABE 2016

"The Detroit Institute of Arts has a really nice stage anchoring the street with seating," said festival producer Jon Witz, adding that the zone will offer a mix of talent including puppet shows, storytellers, clowns and magic shows. "The Michigan Science Center is doing interactive experiments and exhibits where they bring kids on stage and do some fun things with science throughout the weekend ... there's also complimentary arts and crafts courtesy of (Detroit art center) Arts & Scraps, which has been a tradition for many years."

Witz says another wholesome activity at this year's outdoor event — which is officially titled the 22nd annual Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats & Eats presented by Flagstar Bank — is the Oakland Community College First Responder Simulator. Here, kids can get up close and touch a real fire truck, police car or ambulance. 

"There's also a law enforcement simulator where you can learn what it's like to drive a police car, fire truck or EMS vehicle," he said. "There's no added charge for any of it." 

Of course there are other attractions that appeal to all ages even outside The Detroit News Kids Zone. This includes a carnival, juried art show and several stages hosting live music of all genres.

This year's main stage is headlined by hitmakers from throughout the past few decades, including Foghat, a late replacement for Starship, and All-American Rejects on Friday, Randy Houser and Phillip Phillips Saturday, Third Eye Blind Sunday night and Laith Al-Saadi, Night Ranger and Theory of a Deadman on Labor Day. 

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Witz says they've added more restaurants and food vendors and calls this year's culinary lineup "one of the best ever." They've added Prime 29 Steakhouse, Freshii, Wahlburgers, Crispelli's and Little Bros. Burgers to join returning favorites like Nothing Bundt Cakes, Sedona Taphouse and Cafe Muse. 

Kids go for a ride on the Frog Jump at a previous Arts, Beats & Eats festival. More family-friendly activity is in store this year in The Detroit News Kids Zone on Center between Third and Fourth.

"It's really one of the tastiest food events in the Midwest and we will be coming so strong this year," he said, adding that many vendors will offer smaller tastes for a lower price point so folks can try an array of food. 

Food and beverages (alcoholic and soft drinks) must be purchased with tickets, which are 16 for $10. Tasting portions start as low as 3 tickets (under $2) but many are in the 5-8 ticket range. Beers are 12 tickets ($7.50) and soft drinks are 6 ($3.75). 

Arts, Beats & Eats, which saw 330,000 visitors in 2018, charges admission for most attendees and some of those funds are dispersed to local charities. The festival says since its inception in 1998, more than $5.2 million has been raised for area nonprofits.

Twitter: @melodybaetens

Arts, Beats & Eats

11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sun. and 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Downtown Royal Oak

Admission: Free 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, $7 after. $3 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.-Mon, $7 after. 

(248) 541-7550 or