All photos by: Alina Velasquez
As the second and final day of the Honeyland Festival began, crowds of people lined up to enter those familiar gates. The energy was electrifying as attendees started to pile into the vendors on either side of the centerpiece that was the Beats Stage.
One thing different about day two was the presence of clear ponchos and even a few umbrellas. For the larger portion of the day the weather was, in a word – gloomy. But that didn’t stop festivalgoers from keeping the party going.
Before walking all the way through the gates, the crowd at the front of the Beats Stage was going wild, mud and all.
“Let me take y’all to Africa real quick,” exclaimed one of the hosts on the stage before Gyptian’s “Hold Yuh” started playing, much to the pleasure of the growing crowd in front of him.
Everyone was clearly having a great time. Laughter and joking could be heard from groups of friends who looked over the different offerings at the Honeyland merch table. Meanwhile, to the left of the Beats Stage, there were plenty of people playing to win HBCU-themed merch and just talking about their experiences with one another.
“This is my first time going to any kind of music festival,” said Janae, a 20-year-old visiting the Houston area for the concert. “But I really like this one. I’m an old soul.”
At the core of Honeyland, bringing together Black people from all walks of life and backgrounds reigns supreme and many attendees felt the festival accomplished just that.
“I love how happy everyone is. The energy here is amazing,” Janae said. “There hasn’t been one incident all weekend. Everyone is having a good time. I’m proud of us.”
Much like the first day of the festival, there was no shortage of different sellers to hear from and, of course, buy from. Nestled in neat rows on either side of the park, attendees could buy anything from socks and shades to cosmetics.
The food wasn’t lacking either. Lines stretched across the open space of the park where the stands would sometimes have to start two lines in order to accommodate the demand. From delicious homestyle gumbo to classic carnival treats like funnel cakes and ice cream, no one in attendance would have left hungry.
Music wasn’t the only spectacle that festivalgoers could see. Day two of the Eats & Sips stage presentations included appearances from Ghetto Gastro and the McBride Sisters for an interesting, fun and informative brunch-themed panel.
Attendees were also invited to watch the Houston-native Bun B craft one of his legendary Trill Burgers while talking about how he got his start in the food industry with stage partner Touré Folkes who made an incredible Hi-Ball cocktail.
But the festivities didn’t end with food and drink. In the Studio HL scene, a meet and greet session was hosted with the McBride Sisters. Throughout the day, attendees could tune in to learn more about crafting cocktails with mixologist Kenyatta Mincey Parker over lively banter with Angela Yee and Tabitha Brown.
Keeping the good vibes from the day before, there were many incredible performers gracing the Beats Stage. From acts like DJ Mr Rogers who played off the crowd’s energy perfectly all night to Tay Powers, Lucky Daye, Coco Jones and TEMS.
As the night wore on, there was no loss of energy from the mass of music lovers having a good time. Toward the end of the night, there were performances from beloved chopped-n-screwed artists like Scarface, Z-Ro, Slim Thug, Paul Wall and Lil Keke with a surprise appearance from Bun B.
In between sets of the Houston All-Stars, the crowd was treated to a delightful mash-up of old and new R&B, hip-hop and even some zydeco while everyone waited for headliner Mary J. Blige to take center stage.
The final day of the festival was just as jam-packed as the first. As the crowds began to file out of the gates and the rain picked up, many people could be heard talking about how great the performances were and how they hoped there would be an encore next year.
Honeyland, although in its infancy, showed a lot of promise this weekend. Even with less-than-ideal parking situations and long lines for food vendors, there was a unique and persevering energy that brought people together through food, culture and humor – things that far overshadow any of the hiccups that come along with starting up a festival.