An Insider’s Guide To The Royal Oak Arts, Beats and Eats Festival

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For the past 18 years, the metro Detroit area has been closing out the end of summer with the Arts, Beats and Eats festival. Now held in Royal Oak (previously it was in Pontiac), people from all over southeast Michigan and beyond are invited to spend their Labor Day weekend celebrating the arts, enjoying some local tunes and indulging in sweet and savory treats.

The festival itself has more than enough to keep the whole family entertained, and enough to keep you wandering around looking for you’re-not-sure-what. So we’ve done the part and compiled a list of what we think is worth your attention at this year’s festival, beyond our regular favorites.

The Arts

Darlin Nothnagel — The Huron River Potter

Pottery by Darlin Nothnagel with Michigan details.

Potter Darlin Nothnagel uses DNR-approved Huron River sediment to formulate a unique secret glaze recipe, “The Huron River Glaze” to make stoneware coffee cups, tea pots and wall hangings. A dredge operator by trade, Darlin is a self-taught potter with over 30 years of experience since he first began making pottery in 1979 while in Florida.

LOOK FOR: His fire sale — last fall while burning leaves on the property, a storage unit containing art work and kilns unfortunately caught fire. However, some of the pieces were able to be salvaged with a new rustic look. This fire collection includes miniature vases that are part of his first personal collection, dated at 1979.

FIND HIM AT: Booth #43. He also has a DIA artist demonstration on Saturday at 4:30.

Jan Kaulins

Jan Kaulin’s phot of a Detroit Manhole Cover.

For the fourteenth year in a row, Detroit photographer Jan Kaulins will feature his art at the Royal Oak Arts Beats and Eats festival. As a fine-art photographer for over 20 years, Kaulins uses full frame sensor cameras to capture the beauty that is our rapidly changing city of Detroit. Kaulins’s goal is to connect several generations of Detroit through the nostalgia associated with some of the Detroit structures as well as longtime loved products.

Photographers who have specialized in certain cities for as long as Kaulins has are indeed hard to come by. But for those of us Michiganders, we know he speaks the truth — “If you travel a lot you find that most people love the communities in which they live, but Detroiters take their love of their city even one big step further.”

LOOK FOR: His artistic interpretations of iconic products associated with Detroit, such as, in Detroit,  Better Made Potato Chips, Faygo Pop,  Stroh’s Beer and Twin Pines Dairy Milk.<

FIND HIM AT: Booths #32 and #33

The Beats

The Native Howl

Michigan native members of The Native Howl [left to right] Jake Sawicki, Alex Holycross, David Robinson and Josh LeMieux.
As a pretty fresh collaboration of two years, The Native Howl is the answer to your field of folk-rock dreams. The group has self-released two albums since coming together: The Revolution’s Dead EP and their latest, Inukshuk. The gang used their combined business acumen to launch Clean As Dirt Records out of CAD Studios in Leonard, MI.

With a successful tour of Michigan with fellow AB & E band The Gasoline Gypsies, the Native Howl has done quite well for themselves by making an appearance at a plethora of Michigan venues in the past year. The group even managed to raise over $7K on Kickstarter to get the tour started, and boy, are we ever happy they did.

PREVIEW THIS: Inukshuk, 2015

HEAR THEM: Friday at 6:30 p.m. on the Beaumont Cultural/Acoustic Stage

Gin Blossoms

Gin Blossoms, formed in Tempe, Arizona in 1987

Quite possibly one our favorite post-grunge era bands of the late 80s, Gin Blossoms’s jangle-pop alternative sound still stands out with a plethora of [now] classic hits. If you don’t think you know the Gin Blossoms, it’s most likely you actually do — many of their most well-known tunes stem from the mid-90s and have given us a bundle of twangy radio singalong’s ever since.

Since the unfortunate news of lead guitarist Doug Hopkins’s death in 1993, the group has still persevered to maintain the direction the band once had, which we’re undoubtedly excited to see at this year’s festival.

PREVIEW THIS: Outside Looking In: The Best of The Gin Blossoms, 1999

HEAR THEM: Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on the Abe National Stage — Michigan Lottery Stage

Dave Hamilton

Dave Hamilton, Detroit City Grooves — 2013

Looking for the sounds of Detroit? Look no further — Dave Hamilton comes to this year’s festival bringing an uptown yet edgy Motown beat with a touch of blues and sweet soul harmonies, jazz grooves, a little bit of funk and even some gospel. Having a career of over 50 years, Hamilton’s set is certainly not one to miss, and even more so certainly one to celebrate.

As a Sunday evening headliner, Hamilton has a plethora of rare and obscure melodies of Detroit to share. Nothing could quite possibly capture Motown like Hamilton, so come ready for some strutting rhythms and horns to get your part-psychadellic part-soul groove on.

PREVIEW THIS: Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Funk: Rare and Unreleased Twisted Funk 1967-1975

HEAR THEM: Sunday at 9:45 p.m. on the Ford Alternative Stage

The Eats

Eskimo Jacks

As one of the previous Hatch finalists from last month, Eskimo Jacks will leave your mouth watering simply with their images of ice cream packed cookie sandwiches. They make their own ice cream and they make their own cookies — smash them together and you’ve got magic.

With a cookie recipe that’s been handed down for generations, and ice cream made using 100% all-natural and local ingredients (with zero GMOs!), Eskimo Jacks isn’t messing around. And they have a page-full of ice cream and cookie flavors for you to mix and match to whatever treat your sweet heart desires.

TRY THIS: Snickerdoodle Cookie with Cinnamon Ice Cream

Srodek’s Quality Polish Deli


As a second generation family owned and operated business in the heart of Michigan’s own Hamtramck, Srodek’s Quality Polish Deli knows a thing or two about the Polish tradition. Stop by to find an excellent selection of import Polish products and locally manufactured Dearborn lunchmeat.

Find Polish and European specialties such as kielbasa, sauerkraut, pierogi and stuffed cabbage (Golabki) to satisfy those taste buds and bring a little European flavor to your weekend.

TRY THIS: Hunter Sausage with Apple Pierogis


Bozii’s Apple Strudle

Bozii (pronounced Bo-zee) serves uniquely portable, toasted meals in the form of a cute little pita pocket full of goodness. Made with super foods and premium ingredients, these little guys can be found stuffed to the brim with foods ranging from Mediterranean vegetables all the way to crab.

If you’re looking to go the organic route, this is the way to go. All of their products are made from scratch and use natural ingredients — no preservatives, no chemicals, nadda. A street snack you can feel good about enjoying!

TRY THIS: Turkey and Brie Bozii — Organic turkey breast, tart Granny Smith apples, baby arugula and Brie with a side of Hashbrown Rounds.

The festival, presented by Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, has admission for $3 per day until 3 p.m., and $5 per day after. The festival is free to enter until 5 p.m. on Friday only.

For more information on the festival, visit

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