Up to 75,000 expected for Rock ‘n’ Rides event in downtown Royal Oak – Daily Tribune

The annual Rock ‘n’ Rides carnival and music event returns to downtown Royal Oak for four days in time to kick off the summer season.

Last year, around 75,000 people turned out for the four-day family festival, which was canceled for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We doubled our audience size last year compared to 2019,” said Jon Witz, who produces Rock ‘n’ Rides, as well as Arts, Beats and Eats and other events at Royal Oak. “I guess we’ll have about the same number of people this year.”

About twenty musical groups and 10 DJs are on the program this year, in addition to 18 rides, games and other carnival activities.

“The majority of them will be performing on a Fifth Street stage,” Witz said. “We will have a children’s stage on Sixth Street that will be for adult performers only after 6:30 p.m. each evening.”

This year, the music and carnival festival takes place from Thursday June 16th to Sunday June 19th.

Admission is $5 before 5 p.m. and $10 after. But Royal Oak residents can attend for free before 5 p.m. or at a reduced rate of $5 thereafter.

“We are offering this to residents of Royal Oak through the support of the city,” Witz said.

Twenty local musical acts and 10 DJs will be part of the event this year. (Picture Rock ‘n’ Rides)

Henry Ford Health is giving free admission wristbands to 1,500 children and their families through nonprofit service groups on the first day of the event as part of Community Day.

“These are children with life-threatening illnesses, special needs, or disadvantaged families,” Witz said.

More than 10 local non-profits and community groups will partner with Rock ‘n’ Rides, each receiving a portion of drink or admission sales.

Nonprofits include groups such as Metro Detroit Youth Clubs, The Children’s Center, Rainbow Connection, Haven and Habitat for Humanity, Witz said.

The event footprint covers approximately six city blocks and three parking lots between Washington Avenue and Main Street, from Seventh to Fifth Street downtown.

Considered the biggest carnival in the city with some of the best food trucks in the area, the event includes a block party on Fifth Street between Washington and Center Street with offers and music for adults.

The musical acts that will be performing are due to be announced in a few weeks.

New this year will be ax throwing provided by the HUB stadium.

It will be installed near Sixth and Center streets. Adults will have the opportunity to throw 1.5 pound axes at wooden targets marked with a bull’s eye, and the points scored are based on the accuracy of the throws.

Professional ax masters will be on hand to demonstrate and coach participants in the art of ax throwing.

Another new upcoming carnival attraction is a Meijer-sponsored inflatable entertainment area at Seventh and Center streets near Oakland Community College.

There will be several bouncy houses and other inflatable structures for children to play on.

Carnival rides will cater to families and thrill seekers, with rides including Cliffhanger, Ring of Fire, Sizzler, Vertigo and others, organizers said.

Rock ‘n’ Rides drew around 75,000 people to downtown Royal Oak at last year’s event. Royal Oak residents will be admitted free before 5 p.m. and get half the $10 admission after 5 p.m. (pictured Rock ‘n’ Rides)

Individual rides cost between $3 and $5 each, while wristbands for unlimited rides cost $30 each.

Music, arts and crafts, face painting and other activities will be available for children.

Main Street is under construction and is expected to last until mid-July. Rock ‘n’ Rides participants are encouraged to park in one of the Royal Oak’s municipal car parks.

Parking at the bridges is free for two hours before 5 p.m. and 75 cents per hour after.

More information is available at rocknridesro.com

David H. Henry