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Arts, Beats & Eats Wrap-Up: Weather and Crowds Cooperate

Festival organizers are happy with the turnout and spirit of the Labor Day event. Police say crowds were well behaved.

Arts, Beats & Eats is getting high marks today for upbeat crowds and great weather, while others express concerns about noise levels and loss of Labor Day weekend business.

“The weather cooperated and the crowds were well behaved,” said Deputy Chief Gordon Young. With near record-breaking attendance — nearly 400,000 festivalgoers attended over four days — there were a total of six arrests, the same number as last year.

“The arrests were mainly for disorderly conduct and public intoxication,” said Young. Friday, Saturday and Sunday each had one arrest and on Monday there were three.

About 390,000 people attended the festival in downtown Royal Oak, officials reported — up 18 percent from last year’s attendance, which was hurt by very hot and steamy weather and . In 2010, the festival had a record-breaking attendance of 423,000.

Estimated daily attendance figures provided by organizers:

  • Friday: 50,000
  • Saturday: 150,00
  • Sunday: 100,000
  • Monday: 90,000

“We had the second largest attendance we’ve ever had,”  Director Jon Witz said of the festival’s 15-year history. “I saw tens of thousands of people of people getting together in peace. Over the four days, we got to see how we all share a common culture — a love of fun, family, a good time and music.”

As an example of the goodwill of festivalgoers, Witz pointed to the generosity extended to the Children's Miracle Network at . Between a large canister where people dropped in donations at the festival, a matching donation and the sales of Stone Soup raffle tickets with 94.7 WCSX, more than $30,000 was raised.

Festival organizers will release the amount of money raised for charity at the end of the month. Last year charities split more than $260,000.

Arrests and tickets

Witz praised the Royal Oak Police Department for their role in keeping the festival safe.

“They are the best at what they do,” Witz said of Royal Oak public safety. “They stay together in pairs and they patrol areas with such precision. They are so well organized.”

In addition to the arrests, 1,613 parking tickets were issued, Young said, up from 1,157 last year but still less than the first year when 1,873 drivers found a $50 ticket tucked under their windshield wiper.

Festival is a hit with musicians, but not some neighbors

Arts, Beats & Eats had one of its strongest lineups this year, Witz said.

“On a weekend people pay $5 to see just one stage at a bar. At Arts, Beats & Eats for the same amount you can see ten stages,” Witz said. “It was fun to see every stage jammed.”

Musicians and fans had praise for the festival, with many taking to Facebook. A sampling:

  • Jill Jack: “A hot night it was! The band was on fire and the crowd was our biggest ever, and yes mother nature just added her little heat to get us all glistening.”
  • Tammy Clyma Ristau: “Having so much fun! Favorite bands: The Ruiners, The Dunwells, Julie Havens, The Howling Diablos, the Polish Muslims, Detroit Ditch Diggers and The Sights!"
  • Carolyn Striho: “Thank you again for the love Friday night...120 degrees and 100 minutes of music!”
  • Jimi Oleniczak: “(The Reefermen) were awesome. Thanks.”
  • Michele Conner: “Thanks for a great show tonight Morris (Day). Condensation never looked so cool!”
  • Cheryl Palmer McDonald: “It's has just been perfect this year. I'm going for the fourth day. I love it here in Royal Oak.”

Others were less delighted with the music, voicing concerns the music was too loud.

“I am happy that Royal Oak and the people that are able to attend are able to enjoy and benefit from Arts, Beats & Eats. But the music decibel level needs to come down,” wrote Stephanie Comptois on Royal Oak Patch’s Facebook page.

“My aunt lives in Berkley near 12 Mile and Coolidge (and) could hear the music loud and clear in her home and we are at Normandy and Elmhurst in North Royal Oak and we heard the music and words clearly and felt the vibration of the bass with our house vibrating until 11:48 p.m.”

Festival not ideal for all

Allan Teger, a photographer from Vero Beach, FL described festival traffic and sales as "excellent."

"Arts, Beats & Eats is one of my favorite shows," Teger said. " I have been coming here for about 10 years."

Brenda Klein was generally happy with the festival, but had suggestions to make it better. Klein, the winner of the Peoples Choice Award as well as a first place ribbon, took part in the Deaf Artist Festival, which took place on Seventh Street between Washington Avenue and Center Street.

“We didn’t get as much traffic as the artists on Washington,” Klein said. "We would like to see more hearing people come this way."

The deaf community is very social, Klein said. She said she thinks some people looked down Seventh Street and saw all the signing and were “afraid” to visit the deaf and hearing-impaired artists.

“I can understand that,” she said. “So next year I hope they just mix us in with the other artists.”

And while many sidewalk cafes along Washington Avenue appeared to be at capacity, not all downtown businesses are thrilled with the four-day event.

“Arts, Beats & Eats hurts my business,” said Lynn Dang of on West Sixth Street. “Labor Day weekend is normally really busy for us — a lot of weddings. But my clients couldn’t get in. We had to shut down. People do not want to pay $15 to park for a $14 manicure.”

Dang said she lost five days of business. She closed down on Thursday because her clients couldn’t find anywhere to park and were canceling bookings. Dang has a hard time imagining a scenario in which her business could co-exist with the festival.

“I just want it to end,” she said.

Harry Bissell September 05, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Arts, Beats, and Eats may be a fun time for those who come in from other cities, but it is a disaster for downtown residents and businesses. Having downtown essentially off-limits from Thursday (set-up) through Monday is too much of an imposition. Its time for some other city to take the festival and leave Royal Oak residents in peace and quiet for a change !
Alison Gunn September 08, 2012 at 02:22 AM
I have to agree with this gentleman, The traffic, the parking problems, the noise - - including the circling helicopters and banner-towing planes - - _TWICE in a month_ is too much. And those of us who live in or close to the footprint of thee festivities have the option of fleeing or hiding. I wore earplugs most of the weekend. Is it really worth holding the city hostage for a week?

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