Soaring Eagle Arts Beats & Eats kicks off Friday as end of summer bash

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Ready for Michigan's biggest end of summer bash, the Soaring Eagle Arts Beats & Eats in Oakland County, but weary about crowds? Head to the festival early, says organizer Jon Witz.

The popular festival, which returns Friday after being canceled last summer because of COVID-19, opens at 11 a.m. in downtown Royal Oak and runs through Monday with music, art, food and more. The best time to spread out and have some space is earlier in the day, said Witz. 

This year's festival, which will have nine stages with a wide variety of music, will feature some of the biggest music acts it has ever had, including rock band Stone Temple Pilots, Gin Blossoms, Rise Against, Thornetta Davis and Bobby Brown.

"I think it's going to be our best year ever," said organizer Jon Witz.

This year's Arts Beats & Eats will feature 120 artists from all over the country who specialize in a range of mediums.

Masks won't be required at any stage venues but Witz said they are "strongly recommending" that unvaccinated patrons to wear them. Vaccination clinics also will be held throughout the entire four-day festival. Sanitation stations also will be set up throughout the festival.

Every summer, Arts Beats & Eats draws hundreds of thousands to downtown Royal Oak to listen to music, check out the art and sample some food.

And even though COVID and now the delta variant have been a curveball in terms of planning, "life has been a curveball," said Witz.

"Everyone has been dealing with it," said Witz. "Concerts are back and venues supporting events are back. Kids are going back to school indoors. Restaurants are at full capacity and we are doing what we do, being an outdoor event. We have to operate in this space and do the best we can."

From left, Bassist Robert DeLeo, lead vocalist Jeff Gutt and guitarist Dean DeLeo of the Stone Temple Pilots performed in 2019 on the Entertainment Stage at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on Belle Isle. The group performs at 10 p.m. Friday on the Michigan Lottery National Stage at Arts Beats & Eats.

Art-wise, this year's festival will feature 120 artists in a range of mediums. Alec LaCasse, a woodworker from Oakland Township, will be selling his incredibly detailed, life-like wood sculptures at the festival. He recently finished a sculpture of Thomas Edison.

"As with most projects, it went through a prolonged 'ugly stage' but as it came through I started to enjoy myself more and more," said LaCasse on Facebook.

And you can't forget the food at Arts Beats & Eats. There will be 60 food vendors this year, which doesn't include the dozens of restaurants already operating in Royal Oak.

One big change this year at Arts Beats & Eats is that tickets won't be required to purchase food and drives. Witz said it was a matter of creating fewer touch points and they're testing out the change for one year.

"There's a safety benefit," said Witz.

For Arts Beats & Eats fans, this year's festival will be very similar to the last time it was held in 2019, but better, Witz said.

"We aren’t taking any steps backward," he said.

mfeighan@detroitnews.com

Soaring Eagle Arts Beats & Eats

Presented by Flagstar Bank in downtown Royal Oak

11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday 

9 music stages, 120 artists, 60 food vendors

Admission is $5 before 3 p.m. and $10 after 3

Go to http://artsbeatseats.com/