Music Festival Planners Offer Gentle Critique of Houston: How Do You Navigate This Thing?

Some visitors to last weekend’s blockbuster Essence Music Festival at Reliant Park had a hard time getting around Houston:

“It was a difficult city to navigate and that can’t be ignored,” said Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications Inc. “The end result was a general lack of systems to manage the sprawl. Houston underestimated the enormity and significance of this event.”

Festival organizers said they heard numerous complaints from attendees related to the distance between hotels, shopping, downtown entertainment and Reliant Park, where the Essence Festival was held.

But Houston officials said the transportation hiccups that occurred during the three-day festival were the result of taking on the challenge of hosting the national event with less than a year to prepare.

Ebanks said organizers had suggested that free or subsidized shuttles be available to ferry attendees about town but that did not occur.

Don’t these people have cars? That’s our “system to manage sprawl.” Sheesh. Next thing you know, these folks will be complaining about a lack of nightlife.

Oh . . .

While transportation was a major issue for attendees, Ebanks said many also complained that after the late night concerts ended there was nothing for them to do.

Who are these people? Event planners or city planners? Remind us what the difference is, again?

Councilman Ronald Green sets the tourists straight, though:

Green, who has attended the event in past years, said the community did “just the minimum” in hosting the event.

He said Houston’s layout is different from that of New Orleans, and event attendees will have to deal with sprawl. But he said the city could do more to appear hospitable.