>> ... Next Generation ...
Music fest about to make history.
t the suggestion of real
estate property manager
Adam Bleznak, we met for
lunch at one of the last
standing Jewish delis in the city of Detroit,
a once-and-possibly-future favorite spot
on Michigan Avenue, staunchly holding
its own on the edge of Corktown. You
might call the place "retro" or "vintage
chic" were it not for the fact that the
Hygrade Delicatessen has survived
curiously impervious to the changes in its
neighborhood for more than 60 years.
Like so many other deserving yet
benignly neglected Detroit venues,
the Hygrade Deli is a hidden city gem
awaiting recovery and rediscovery. Which
brings us to the purpose of meeting
Over famed Detroit-brand Sy Ginsberg
Corned Beef piled high on Reuben
sandwiches (reputed to be the very
best in town), Bleznak describes his
community connections: from real estate
management in Ann Arbor to Detroit
neighborhood renewal and an upcoming
music festival called Oakaloosa.
k Music Festival With A
If the name Oakaloosa doesn't yet ring
a bell or roll off the tongue, it will soon
enough. Featuring a star-studded roster of
bands coming July 27 to Detroit's Historic
Fort Wayne, Oakaloosa is a first-of-a-kind,
nonprofit venture, a "music festival with
a purpose" that, according to Bleznak,
could well become "one of the most
impactful annual charity events in the city
of Detroit." As festival program and sales
director, Bleznak, 25, has taken a lead
role in backing and promoting the event.
A percentage of the proceeds from
Oakaloosa will support youth programs
through Detroit Sports Zone Inc., one of
the nonprofit organizers of the event.
Founded in 2011 and based on the
vision of Detroiter and former Harlem
Globetrotter Ernest "Wag" Wagner, Detroit
Sports Zone is committed to engaging
people of all ages in sports, cultural arts,
mentoring, life-skills development and
This year, additional proceeds from
the festival go toward the much-needed
renovation of Historic Fort Wayne to
restore it to its previous glory and to
preserve it as a family destination for
future generations to enjoy.
18 July 4 • 2013
VIVIAN HENOCH I SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
"For us, this festival is all about
boosting the city, having a great time
and giving back." — Adam Bleznak
By design, the grounds around Fort
Wayne create a natural amphitheater, a
spectacular setting for the event.
"Like many venues in the city of Detroit,
time has eroded this stunning site,"
Bleznak says. "The Detroit Sports Zone,
in partnership with the City of Detroit
Recreation Department, is sponsoring
Oakaloosa with the purpose of drawing
thousands of young people to the shores
of the Detroit River for something never
seen before. For us, this festival is all about
boosting the city, having a great time and
A 2010 graduate of University of Michigan,
Bleznak was headed to law school when
opportunities in the real estate market
instead compelled him to join his father in
Bleznak Real Estate Investment Group, the
family firm headquartered in Birmingham.
As the third generation in the business,
Bleznak has an impressive track record for
managing a portfolio of multiple properties
and growing the enterprise.
About a year ago, a chance encounter
at Bert's Barbeque in the Eastern Market
put Bleznak in touch with Miller London, a
former senior V.P. of Motown working with
Detroit Sports Zone, "an amazing group of
individuals" organizing basketball leagues,
referee training and other sports activities
for youth in Detroit neighborhoods.
The organization had been working
to establish itself as a
model, and invited Bleznak
to join its board to help
its fundraising efforts.
As Bleznak was soon to
learn, Detroit Sports Zone
happened to be a legacy
Adam Bleznak at the entrance gate to Historic
organization of the Motor
City Youth Initiative, a
nonprofit founded by his
grandfather, Richard Bleznak, with his long-
first time all five original members of
time friend, Ernest Wagner.
the Grammy-winning rap group have
"This seemed more like a calling than
performed together since the '90s. Other
a coincidence," Bleznak says. "Once I
featured artists include homegrown talent
learned about the Detroit Sports Zone's
such as Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas,
connection with my own family, I was even
Trick Trick, Robert James, Royce Da 5'9", Dj
more dedicated to helping this group with
A.M.F., Kaleido, Ro Spit, Hir-O, Freddy Todd
fundraising in order to realize the dreams
and Paulina Jayne. Additional artists will be
set forth by its founders and to accelerate
the work to fulfill their vision."
Festival passes are $45 each and
are available now through Oakaloosa.
com . From noon to midnight, Oakaloosa
With the help of the community and
attendees will enjoy nonstop music at
the sponsors, Oakaloosa is anticipated
the historic location. Stages will be set
to be an annual mega event, drawing a
up near the barracks and the bank of the
regional audience from the Midwest and
Detroit River, with the open field and ample
Canada, capable of generating hundreds
parking available to festival goers.
of thousands of dollars for charity and
For more information and to stay up to
establishing itself as a major player in the
date with all Oakaloosa announcements,
Detroit music and cultural scene.
visit Oakaloosa.com or follow Oakaloosa
Boasting two stages, Oakaloosa will
on Facebook and Twitter. ❑
present DJ mash-up artist Girl Talk and
Bone Thug-N-Harmony's 20th Anniversary
Vivian Henoch writes for myjewishdetroit.
Reunion Tour. The reunion tour is the
org, where this story first appeared.