Arts, Beats, & Eats is canceled, but organizers launch virtual and drive-in events to support local musicians

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click to enlarge Arts, Beats, & Eats is canceled, but organizers launch virtual and drive-in events to support local musicians
Courtesy of Arts, Beats, & Eats

A longstanding metro Detroit Labor Day celebration is canceling its festivities due to, well, you know.

Soaring Eagle's Arts, Beats, & Eats is the latest event to pivot to hosting alternative events amid the coronavirus pandemic. This year's iteration will look nothing like the annual event's previous 22 celebrations, which normally hosts a sprawling, four-day event with 200-plus music acts, 40-some restaurants, and more than 100 artist booths throughout sprawling downtown Royal Oak, where the event moved to from Pontiac in 2010.

Organizer Jon Witz says those behind the event support Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the State of Michigan's pandemic safety and prevention efforts, and that “it's very clear that there is no path for Arts, Beats, & Eats.”

Taking its place is a series of “virtual and small-scale” events dubbed "The Beats Go On..." which looks to raise $500,000 for local musicians impacted by the coronavirus-related economic fallout.

“We are committed to helping support some of the hardest-hit members of our community, musicians, and we will not let our weekend pass without doing something fun and meaningful for the region,” Witz said in a statement.

Programming for the event has been broken up into phases, the first of which will seek to collect donations for musicians through Sept. 3 via virtual concerts from more than 400 bands. According to the release, bands will keep all funds they raise through their performance; funds collected via the donation link will be split.

The second phase takes place during Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-7, and will feature up to five live drive-in shows per day, with each show will be made up of a pair of 30-minute sets from local musicians, including Thornetta Davis, the Reefermen, the Orbitsuns, Jennifer Westwood & the Handsome Devils, and others.

There's just room for 50 cars per show. Each car will be parked 15 feet apart, while band members will perform six feet apart, and 20 feet from the audience. Masks are required to enter the event and must be worn when using the restroom and when food is delivered to the vehicle. Each ticket is $30 and admits two people per car.

Art will get its due, too, thanks to Art by Appointment. People can preview artists' work, after which point they can snag a 75-minute appointment to view work from 20 artists. According to the release, each 75-minute block will allow 50 guests, with just one person per booth at once.

New to the Arts, Beats, & Eats weekend, The Beat Goes On... will also host a “100-person Zumbathon-style fitness dance event” will take place at the main stage parking lot on Saturday, Sept. 5 and on Sunday, Sept. 6. The cost of classes will go toward COVID-19 charities and out-of-work fitness instructors.

For more information on donations and program scheduling,

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