Ford Arts, Beats & Eats takes over downtown Royal Oak

Ann Zaniewski,

Sept. 1, 2017 

(Photo: Rachel Woolf, Special to the Free Press)

Nadia Abdallah, 6, dipped her fishing line in a small pool and pulled out a plastic fish, a catch that earned her an inflatable mermaid doll.

Overjoyed with her prize, she was even more excited about her next stop at Ford Arts, Beats & Eats: the Ferris wheel.

“Sometimes, my mom gets really scared,” she said, smiling.

Rosemarie Bonelli laughs while she holds her son Ilario Bonelli, 7, both of New York City during The 20th Annual Ford Arts, Beats & Eats on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017 in downtown Royal Oak. (Photo: Rachel Woolf, Special to the Free Press)

The annual festival fills 18 blocks of downtown Royal Oak this weekend with carnival rides, eclectic food, more than 150 artists and vendors, and music from more than 200 bands.

About 400,000 people are expected to attend. Witz is hoping that number will get a boost by the largely dry, not-too-hot weather forecast.

Fifty charitable and community organizations will benefit from the festival, primarily through admission gate sales. Organizers expect them to receive up to $400,000 this year, putting the total donated since the festival’s inception past the $5-million mark.

The “Carolyn Striho Band” performs during The 20th Annual Ford Arts, Beats & Eats on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in downtown Royal Oak. (Photo: Rachel Woolf, Special to the Free Press)

People will have the option at the gate to give $1 to the Red Cross to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The festival runs through Monday night.

On Friday afternoon, visitors enjoyed a cool breeze and bright sunshine. The aroma of dishes such as sausage-on-a-stick, churros, jumbo turkey legs and french fries filled crowded Washington Avenue.

Tao Li, 26, and her friend Quing Wang, 30, both from Canton, shared an elephant ear, ripping pieces from the bubbled, golden-brown disc of fried dough.

“I only added a little butter on it,” Li said.

Shelly Husek, 55, appreciates the mix of higher-end and affordable art.

“I’m not always looking for a $700 picture,” she said.

Business was brisk for artist Corey Bechler, with his ceramic fish and bird creations his hottest sellers.

“People are buying them to take them to their cabins Up North,” he said.

Bechler, a school teacher, is a festival veteran. He lives in a cabin in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.

“There’s a reason I drive five hours to get here,” he said. “There’s almost half a million people, great food and great art.”

April Bowdler, of Bowdler’s Concessions, makes a burger during The 20th Annual Ford Arts, Beats & Eats on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in downtown Royal Oak. (Photo: Rachel Woolf, Special to the Free Press)

If you go

What: Ford Arts, Beats & Eats in downtown Royal Oak

When: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sun., 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Mon.

Admission: Fri.: Free until 5 p.m., $7 after 5 p.m.  Sat., Sun. and Mon.: $3 before 3 p.m., $5 from 3-5 p.m., $7 after 5 p.m. Active duty military and veterans with ID get in free

More info: artsbeatseats.com

This article was written for the Detroit Free Press here

2017-09-19T12:18:56+00:00

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