Arts, Beats & Eats is back – and is removing a feature that was a thorn in the side for many present.
Officials with the state’s largest Labor Day festival, officially known as the Eagle Arts, Beats and Fast Foods Presented by Flagstar Bank, confirmed on Tuesday that the event will return September 3-6 to the streets of Royal Oak.
It comes a year after AB&E hosted a hybrid fest with online shows and car concerts by local musicians as the Detroit subway continued to grind through the pandemic.
This year’s festival will look, sound and taste like Arts, Beats & Eats that has been a staple of the Oakland County calendar since 1998: more than 200 national and local music operates in nine stages, with offers from dozens of restaurants and area foods. trucks, family attractions and a fine arts show.
But for the first time since the start of the holiday, customers will now pay directly for food and drink as they go: AB&E is abandoning the ticketing system that required attendees to purchase sets of coupons that were then exchanged for concessions.
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The system was disliked by many celebrants, who said it created extra waiting time, made for vague math, and often stuck with unused tickets at the end of the day.
“Eliminating the ticket system should really hit people who have enjoyed our festival for a long time,” said festival founder Jon Witz. “I think this is something our customers will really appreciate: just a line to wait and a full understanding of our pricing. Something is something that will be celebrated and we are excited to distribute it.”
The change was being considered before COVID-19, Witz said, but the pandemic hastened the decision as he and his team looked for ways to eliminate the touch points.
Acknowledging that “there was a percentage of our crowd who did not like it,” Witz said he hopes to get an increase in attendance with the missing ticket system.
At a media event Tuesday announcing the 2021 festival, Witz also revealed that AB&E has signed its first ever cannabis sponsor – a “multi-year, six-figure partnership” with the Detroit House of Dank metro chain.
The deal will include a new performance space called House of Dank Lounge, which will feature DJs, traveling artists and other performers. Cannabis consumption at the festival remains banned – public consumption is illegal in Michigan – but the House of Dank will sell branded goods and CBD products domestically.
While the new sponsorship was invaluable as the Arts, Beats & Eats emerge from the pandemic, Witz said, the festival continues to seek funding to offset a $ 250,000 budget.
This is partly because the festival has invested heavily in its musical lineup, including what Witz calls “the biggest band in our history” for the opening night of September 3rd. The full entertainment bill will be announced on August 4th.
“My original thought was that we didn’t need a very large musical lineup because I thought everyone would be excited just to go to something outside,” he said. “But people are already going for a lot of things. We are the official return festival, so I realized we needed to grow musically. ”
AB&E has traditionally attracted up to 100,000 people every day, and Witz said he owes people a big time event.
“We want to stand up to the case,” he said.
Contact Detroit Free Press music writer Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.