ABOVE: Lenora performs onstage during Honeyland Festival Day 2 (Photo by Medron White)
This weekend saw the first showcase of Honeyland, a festival dedicated to music, food, and libations in Sugar Land. The festival boasted appearances from musical artists like Mary J. Blige, Miguel, Tems, Chlöe, Tobe Nwigwe, and Lucky Daye; culinary craftspeople like Marcus Samuelsson, Amaris Jones, Ghetto Gastro, and Chris Williams; and representatives from the beverage world like Fawn Weaver, Andre Hueston Mack, and Ben Williams. The festival also had appearances from Bun B and Kelis, two people that have leveraged their music careers to gain strong footholds in the food industry with Kelis becoming a classically trained chef and Bun B helming the wildly popular Trill Burgers. The two epitomize what the festival is about: reaching the masses through food and music.
The thing that the festival absolutely got right, was the music. For whatever reason, it’s usually a challenge getting a festival off the ground in the Bayou City but the lineup for Honeyland was promising. Even after Jazmine Sullivan bowed out of the festival, Summer Walker was quickly booked. Miguel closed out night one and Mary ended the second night but both days were packed with Hip-Hop and R&B.
While night one was chilly and day two was plagued by rain, it didn’t stop the performances. Houston’s own, Lenora, stunned with an electrifying performance and Coco Jones didn’t let the weather stop her, belting out SWV’s “Rain” as the sky opened up seemingly at her command.
“I came to see Lucky Daye,” said attendee Melisa Moore as she made her way towards the vendors after the singer performed his hit “Over.” “As long as I saw him, I got my money’s worth. Everything else was a bonus.”
The list of stars is just what a starting festival would need, bringing in fans from different parts of the country to the city. The show also struck a nice balance between Houston artists and guests from outside of the city with Lenora, Dende, Inayah, Tobe Nwigwe, Lil’ Keke, Paul Wall, Scarface, Slim Thug, and Z-Ro all hailing from Houston. And while shows like this are usually multistage events showcasing musical talent, Honeyland’s multi stages were split between music and food. The covered food stage gave chefs and bartenders the opportunity to display their skills for the live audience.
The transportation was also done right. While there was plenty of lot space in the Crown Festival Park, the entrance was almost guaranteed to be a traffic jam. If you’ve ever been to a festival, you know the headache that can occur getting people in and out the lots and Honeyland seemed to largely avoid that. Having people park at separate locations and being bussed in made moving in and out of the park more convenient.
The pieces were absolutely in place for a successful festival, but everything didn’t connect perfectly just yet. For instance, it’s a food festival, and while there were a number of vendors offering good eats, there weren’t enough to stop lines from being excessively long. Trill Burgers’ line was long but that should be expected at this point with everyone still trying to get their first taste of the award-winning offering by Bun B.
That all being said, a couple of tweaks like more food offerings and culinary showcases focused on attendees tasting the food would turn a truly great concert series into the music and culinary festival that it has all the potential to be. Fingers crossed that Honeyland will return to the city next year!