Over the weekend, the sweetest intersection of culinary arts, mixology and music made its way to Sugarland,Texas at Honeyland Festival. For the first time ever, the festival touched down at Crown Festival Park and brought out droves of attendees looking to let out their inner foodie. On Saturday and Sunday, Black elite tastemakers, cultural leaders, chefs and entrepreneurs talked about a wide range of topics from building community through food to representation in the wine and spirits industry and more. The “eats” were curated by famed restauranteur Marcus Samuelsson and the “sips” by the CEO of Black-owned whiskey brand Uncle Nearest Fawn Weaver. As a part of the inaugural event, EBONY was proud to be a media partner for Honeyland.
“Flowing with food & music, dripping with culture,” Honeyland Festival was a bevy of nonstop fun and celebration of Black excellence. After a serendipitous ribbon cutting to mark the start of the weekend and the inception of this one-of-a-kind festival, the festivities got off to a roaring start. Across six dedicated stages, festival-goers were able to eat well and participate in demonstrations about the power of food and drink while listening to the melodic sounds spun by several DJs such as Jae Murphy, Spinall and Tay Powers. A-list performers such as Inayah, Dende, Lenora, Chlöe, Tobe Nwigwe, Summer Walker (with a special appearance from LeToya Luckett), Miguel, Coco Jones, Lucky Daye, Tems and Mary J. Blige shared the stage across the weekend to sing many of their greatest hits.
Of the many correlated themes that permeated across Honeyland Festival, one that proved to be exceedingly prevalent is the influence of Hip Hop in the realm of food and mixology. Attendees got to pair wine with their favorite Hip Hop classics in a tasting hosted by master sommelier André Hueston Mack and Jermaine Stone. Additionally, Drink Champs hosts N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN took time to pay homage to Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary while toasting’ it up with their favorite libations. Iconic rapper and Trill Burger mastermind Bun B gave a demo about his famously sought-after burger, beloved in real life by judging the wrap-around lines at the festival. The forever Underground Kingz member even caught up with EBONY to chat briefly about being a certifiable legend, what goes into his business and the perfect burger.
“Food is the least common denominator, right? It’s where we all have to sit down and find some level of sustenance. Humans commune typically around food so if you make the right food that most people want to have, people will not only come to your place and enjoy your food, but they’ll meet people, they’ll commune with people, they’ll make friends and build relationships with people. That’s what we want,” expressed Bun B. “We not only want a company that is a great food company. It’s a great business where you come and you buy the food. It’s also a really good and satisfying experience. But we also know that this is a cultural brand and we want to make sure that we’re contributing to the culture and not just taking away and monetizing the culture to run away scot-free with a bunch of money behind these burgers. We want to make sure that when people come to Trill burgers, not only do they get a great meal but they also get to feel like they’re a part of the culture. There’s something tangible that comes from the food which is obviously the initial point of contact with people but there’s so much cultural residual benefit that people can get through this company. I take great pride in being able to offer that.”
It wouldn’t have been a moment if Houston’s own didn’t put on for their city. Scarface, Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Z-Ro, Lil’ Keke and the “Trill OG” himself Bun B took to the stage to show love for their hometown. Whether you were in the VIP Platinum tent or on the ground in the crowd, the electricity from the nostalgic set radiated through the crowd and made for one of the biggest memories of the weekend. Music aside, there were an abundance of conversations that were catered to expert food lovers and novice foodies alike. In the spirit of community, Honeyland made space for students to learn about the culinary and mixology industries and even try their hand at cooking during the festival. This opportunity highlighted just how unique Honeyland was intended to be.
If the music did not fill you up, then the delicious food was a viable adversary. Our favorite food guru and affirmation queen Tabitha Brown even gave us the recipe for prioritizing fashion, food and comfort while onsite at Honeyland Festival. “You know it’s always about comfort for me because I try to eat well every day. I always try to just be free flowing, colorful and wear anything that makes me feel well. I’m still gonna be able to eat the things I want to eat in it and enjoy but over eating is what makes us uncomfortable,” said Brown.
In conjunction with the curated panels, activations and other tidbits of content, what was most special was the impact that each day had on all of those who were present. Many well-respected industry leaders expressed how special it was to be tapped to participate and bear witness to the first-ever Honeyland Festival.
Entertainment personality Kalen Allen spoke about the instantaneous connection that he feels food has on the community as highlighted through its execution. “I think immediately I think of food scarcity and food deserts, and especially when it comes to Black people that live in predominantly Black communities that experience those things. But what’s also good about Honeyland is that we are also coming from a standpoint of education,” shared Allen with EBONY. “We’re able to educate people about Farm to Table and how to find local produce and being able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and provide people resources and knowledge that they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else due to the way that food scarcity is already set up. You know, so I think the ability that I have with the privilege of my life, to be able to come here and to talk to so many people from our community — I wouldn’t be able to do that anywhere else.”
If you don’t believe us, take a look for yourself— here are some of the best visual moments from over the course of the weekend.
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