Festivalgoers enjoy 'a good mix of everything' in Arts Beats & Eats return
Royal Oak — Hundreds of festivalgoers filled the streets of downtown Royal Oak Saturday, signaling the return of a successful Soaring Eagle Arts Beats & Eats.
The annual end-of-summer event rounds out the variety of local events Labor Day weekend after cancellations last year due to COVID-19.
Among the festival goers Saturday were Mikayla Evans of Royal Oak and her friend Libby Rowland of Auburn Hills.
The pair grabbed a couple of bubble teas and Rowland purchased an elephant ear before they found a spot to sit along a raised flowerbed near the carnival rides. The two each attended the festival in years past. The draw for both: the art and the food.
"There's tons of people here," Rowland said. "It's a good mix of everything. The food specifically, there's were a a lot of good of things I wanted to try. I always go back to the elephant ear though."
Evans said she's glad that the event is doing a pay-as-you go system this year food purchases.
"It's kind of nice," she said. "You don't have to pre decide."
This was the first Arts, Beats and Eats festival for Umi Earth of Royal Oak. She watched as two of her young children rode on a kiddie motorcycle ride.
"We're just enjoying some family fun..." she said. "It feels good to get back to normal somewhat."
Earth said she planned to check out every aspect of the festival.
"The arts, the beats and the eats," she said with a laugh.
A variety of music acts played on nine stages Saturday prompting some to dance along to the livelier tunes.
Nathan Kang of Oak Park instinctively tapped his foot as he listen to Jackson and the Pool Sharks, a rock indie band from Detroit. He was joined by his date Emily Liu of Clinton Township who suggested they come to the event.
"They've all been really good," Kang said of the musical performances Saturday.
Kang and Liu stopped by the artist booths where Kang purchased a vinyl record with the likeness of late rapper the Notorious B.I.G. carved out of it. He said he has the perfect spot for the record.
"My office," he said. "I have my instruments in there."
There were 120 artists showing their wares in booths lining the streets, including Art by Tai, a drawing pastels vendor from Hannibal, Missouri and glass art by Dustin Wagner from Springfield, Ohio.
Artist Laura Junge of Chicago, Illinois greeted curious onlookers as she worked on a painting that hung on the side of her booth. Junge said she was slowing bringing out the face of the warrior princess in her painting.
"I love the interaction with the people," she said. "People, they want to understand the art. Quite often they can be intimidated by artists. It makes them feel they can approach you, talk to you."
She said it feels good to show her art again at the festival, which she attends every year. She said she was nervous the event would be canceled for a second year.
"I'm happy to be back and glad that people are out and enjoying this," she said.