The Honeyland Festival is shaping up to be the next big event serving as a one-stop shop for all things Black culture. Slated to take over Crown Festival Park in Sugar Land, Texas on November 11-12, the inaugural festival will feature Mary J. Blige, Tems, Lucky Daye, and Chlöe Bailey as headliners. Additional musical performances listed in the star-studded lineup include Coco Jones, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Scarface, and Tobe Nwigwe, who will serve as the festival’s “Houston Ambassador.”
Houston has Staci Hallmon, IMG’s Senior VP of Arts and Entertainment Events for North America, to thank for bringing this musical event to life. Hallmon, who has previous leadership experience working with Fortune 500 companies such as Walmart, Coca Cola, Disney and Verizon, famously worked as the Senior Vice President and General Manager of BET Networks, and has 15 years of experience at ESSENCE Magazine –– where she was among the powerhouses behind ESSENCE Festival. Her time working with the historic brand for ESSENCE Fest was personally impactful, and Hallmon hopes to create a similar experience that can appeal across multi-generations, including Gen-Zers, through Honeyland.
In a conversation with Refinery29 Unbothered about the upcoming festival, Hallmon shared that the goal of Honeyland is to create an environment where all facets of Black culture can be celebrated in a region that is too often ignored. From music (Beyoncé! Outkast! Usher!) to fashion even down to popular slang, the South has something to say.
“We want a full plate of experiences where we get to be celebrated, elevated and inspired,” Hallmon explains.
Houston has become one of the top culinary destinations in the country; just this year, Travel + Leisure ranked the city fifth on its official list of best food cities in the country. The incredible food culture in Houston is one of the main reasons behind the Honeyland team’s decision to launch the historic festival there, according to organizers and executives. “If you like food and you like good drinks, you should feel very comfortable at Honeyland,” Hallmon says.
Actress and singer LeToya Luckett and media personality Kalen Allen have been announced as the hosts of the Eats and Sips stage, where audiences will be able to explore some of Houston’s most delicious culinary offerings. Additionally, superstar and chef Kelis will join the festivities for a multi-course dinner with a variety of organic ingredients.
“Food is a universal language that brings people together,” Kelis stated in the official Honeyland press release. “The culture and history of food throughout the Black diaspora are central to who we are as a people. I am looking forward to joining my fellow chefs this fall as we curate an unforgettable experience for everyone at Honeyland to enjoy.”
Honeyland will also highlight Black mixologists, blenders, wine experts, and distillers, showcasing a range of talent this fall that includes Houston’s very own Chef Chris Williams and Dallas’ Tiffany Derry. Nationally acclaimed chef, author, and TV personality, Marcus Samuelsson, who will serve as Honeyland’s official food curator. Fawn Weaver, founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey (the fastest-growing American whiskey brand in U.S. history), will work alongside him as Honeyland’s spirits and beverage curator.
The TED speaker and New York Times bestselling author describes Honeyland as a “harmonious blend of the food and spirits world,” and she’s excited about what the festival will offer to the community. "Never before has there been a festival of this scale dedicated solely to the art of food, cocktails, and music rooted in Black culture — celebrating both our heritage and our future,” Weaver tells Unbothered via email. “Given the multitude of emails, texts, and Instagram DMs I've received, it's clear that the Black community has eagerly awaited something as unique as Honeyland."
Hallmon believes that the African-American experience and history of the country’s cuisine landscape goes well beyond just soul food, emphasizing that the agricultural design of this country was actually created by people of color. “We’re telling our own stories…and we get to talk about food in a very different way than what may have been the representation in the past,” Hallmon says.
Honeyland will take over Sugar Land, Texas from November 11-12. Single-day General Admission ($95), GA+ ($140), and VIP passes ($295) are available for purchase. Visit HoneylandFestival.com to learn more details.