Village People, American Idol’s Jena Irene to Highlight Arts, Beats, & Eats


The 17th Annual Ford Arts, Beats, & Eats will return to Royal Oak this Labor Day Weekend (Aug. 29- Sept. 1), bringing with it more than 200 national and local bands, including big names such as the Village People and American Idol runner-up (and Farmington Hills-native) Jena Irene.

“We have the highest budgeted lineup we’ve ever had, and if we have good weather, I think that’s going to translate into big numbers for the festival and certainly into big numbers for our nonprofit partners,” says Jon Witz, principal of Jon Witz and Associates, which organizes the annual festival. “Sponsorship was strong this year, our strongest ever — mostly due to some national brands joining us — and we invested that sponsorship into our music lineup.”

In addition to the Village People, other major acts include Third Eye Blind, Theory of a Deadman, and Randy Houser. And while the lineup touches all music genres, Witz expects an especially strong turnout for the Jena Irene show, at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 30.

“Her show could be really, really big,” Witz says. “There was so much rightful excitement in metro Detroit about her participation in American Idol. Sometimes (the excitement) is because someone is from Michigan — in her case, it was because she was from Michigan and is really, really talented.”

The food lineup equals the music acts in the sense that there will be several high-end restaurants that will be represented this year, says Witz, listing Mitchell’s Seafood Market, newcomer Morton’s The Steakhouse, Andiamo’s, and Prime 29 as a few examples.

Other new restaurants scheduled to participate include Bozii, Detroit Bubble Tea Company, Famous Dave’s, Elvis Catering and Pizza, Shuck-N-Ladder, Star Lanes Restaurant and Sports Bar, and Tania’s Pizza.

Festival organizers have also established a color-coded system identifying health food options including low-carb, low-fat, gluten free, sugar free, and vegan. Health food offerings will be highlighted on vendor menu boards and the festival’s app.

For more information about the upcoming event, visit