The 12-year-old Arts, Beats & Eats festival that took place each Labor Day weekend in Pontiac might move to Royal Oak, festival and Royal Oak officials said today.
Festival organizers said they had been negotiating with Pontiac leaders but had so far failed to reach an agreement for the festival’s home “for 2010 and beyond,” according to a statement today. The statement said the festival organizers were talking with Royal Oak because “it is also a great city in Oakand County with a pedestrian friendly downtown.”
Royal Oak City Manager Don Johnson said he’d talked to Arts, Beats & Eats festival impresario Jonathan Witz “twice in the last week, once in person,” and with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, credited with founding the festival, about bringing the event to Royal Oak next year because it “fits into our downtown business strategy.”
The event would benefit Royal Oak’s restaurants, shops and galleries, Johnson said.
“We’re looking into the logistics to see if we can make it work. If we can, we’d probably welcome it. The final decision is up to the city commission,” although the subject is not on the agenda of any city meetings, he said.
Patterson would not comment other than to say, in an e-mail, that Royal Oak was under consideration.
“Pontiac has performed admirably as the host city, but without a current agreement, I concur with festival management that they explore other locations to ensure the festival’s long term viability and continued success,” Patterson said.
This year, for the first time, the festival charged a $2 admission fee after losing its chief sponsor — the automaker Chrysler. Calls to the current mayor and mayor-elect of Pontiac were not returned.
Festival organizer Jon Witz said he had been negotiating the festival’s terms in Pontiac with “direct representatives of the emergency financial manager” appointed by the state this year.
“We’re not looking to cause issues. We just need a location. We sent a proposed contract to the city of Pontiac and we haven’t gotten an official response,” Witz said.
He said the festival’s parking revenue in most years covered “all the services the city provides to us,” and that the festival created for some Pontiac shops and restaurants “a month’s worth of business in four days.”
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