The Mess After Summer Fest

A reader sends in these photos of the scene at Eleanor Tinsley Park just west of Downtown taken after this weekend’s Free Press Summer Fest, which ended at 10 pm Sunday night. The pics are from after 5 pm on Monday afternoon. “You can see that nothing had been done towards clean up,” writes the photographer.


“When I took the pics yesterday afternoon a car drove up from the mayor’s office to survey the damage,” the photographer reports th. “This morning on my way in at 6 am there was an army of workers out there disassembling the stage, picking up trash, and even the local news crew filming. This was one big blunder.”

Photos: Swamplot inbox

52 Comment

  • Blunder? What did the photographer expect? For the trash from 92K people to disappear overnight? Also, your fellow Houstonians aren’t too clean either. I saw people throwing trash on the ground all weekend.

  • craig, exactly. There is no blunder. I was at SummerFest, too, and thought the entire event went pretty smoothly excpet for the lines I heard about getting in Saturday (I had no problem). This thing took 10 days to build and think will take a few days to take down.

  • Wow Really? It should be common sense that cleaning up the trash from a 92,000 person event should take multiple days. The contractor responsible for the clean-up has been quoted as sayin. KHOU reported “Cleanup crews focused on Allen Parkway on Monday. On Tuesday, workers were expected to focus their attention on Eleanor Tinsley Park and other inland areas. Organizers said, with this magnitude of people, the trash that was left behind is inevitable. “Garbage is unfortunate, but I don’t think you throw the baby out with the bathwater. You clean up the garbage. You do the cleanup right. You don’t do it quick, you do it right,” said Omar Afra, managing editor with Free Press Houston.

    Afra says part of doing it right is recycling. He insisted that the trash would disappear in the days to come, and said he doesn’t want the garbage to overshadow what he called a successful event.

    Lets get the story straight.

  • I don’t get the Blunder comment either. Its not magic breaking down a festival of this size and the trash of 92,000 people. It took days to build the festival before it opened, it will take days to break it down and clean it.

  • I think he was saying that the army of people cleaning up that he saw on Tuesday morning should have been there Monday morning. (Or Monday afternoon. Sometime before Tuesday, a day and a half after the end of the festival.)

  • Is it any different from past years? Honest question, because I don’t see this as a “huge blunder”. It looks like typical cleanup after a big, long and well-trafficked outdoor event. Heard the ticket sales were almost 100,000.

  • Yeah, I don’t see the issue. It’s getting cleaned up. It might have taken a day to organize, plan, and arrange workers for the cleanup. It was a lot of trash. Nothing to see here.

  • I’ve been fairly concerned about the trash too. I’ve been watching from the office, and also saw the mayors office car yesterday. They’ll get it cleaned up, I hope. As another blogger mentioned, some of this will end up in the bayou.

  • I wouldve expected them to make an effort to clean it up starting on monday morning actually. The trash was out there all day monday with no attempt to clean up at all.

  • The reader seems to think that there was negligence on part of the crew that put on Summer Fest and that things were only remedied after someone from the mayor’s office came to “survey the damage.”

    This festival was a huge undertaking run by a surprisingly small group of motivated, hard-working music-loving Houstonions. Do you think you could first give them a couple of hours of sleep? Street closures weren’t finished until 3am on Monday morning which was followed by moving out a small army of vendors and equipment. It is good logistics to wait until you have the large pieces moved out first before you start picking up trash and mowing the lawn. Safety was at the top of the organizer’s list – would you like them to pick up cans while stages are being dismantled? Where you even there for the concert?? It was a massive, successful undertaking. The park is being cleaned because they planned to clean it – not because the mayor’s people showed up.

    I doubt any damage was being surveyed – more like the mayor’s office was counting the revenue dollars this excellent event brought to the City of Houston.

  • Couldn’t agree more with the other commenters. This festival has grown exponentially and is bringing the Houston music scene to new levels and all at an extremely low cost to the festival goers. I got caught in the long lines Saturday but things happen, and not once did I encounter anyone who was working/volunteering that was anything less than enthusiastic and polite. People have been really quick to criticize after the weekend, but I think they have done an incredible job organizing and building a wonderful festival.

  • On the right side of Picture #3 there is a guy holding what looks like a lond handle dust pan and broom. hahaha. This was the cleanup crew they had hired??

  • I drove by multiple times on Monday, and every time I saw an army of people working on a very big cleanup. I even saw someone who seemed to be separating out empty water bottles for recycling. Let’s all offer our thanks to those workers laboring in the hot sun to give us back our beautiful park!

  • They also purchased carbon offset credits, and plan to recycle 90% of all consumables. It’s not summer fest’s fault, it’s the trashy people who went, as there were plenty of trash receptacles. All in all it was wildly successful and some of this is to be expected; rest assured the cleanup is paid for.

  • They did a blah job of cleaning Allen for Monday traffic. At 8am as I drove in I nearly hit a pallet which was half on/half off the side of the road. Lots of other trash every place. Today at lunch I ran my normal route out Allen to Shepherd and they finally had trash crews raking the hill. Running back I wanted to avoid the mess and ran the other side (South) side of Allen. Lots of trash still over there.

  • Not to pile on, but instead of a “blunder” this might in fact have been “the plan from the beginning”.

  • Good Grief. It takes a few days to clean up after something like this. The event was over the weekend. It’s cleaned up by Wednesday. I would say that’s pretty darn good.

    Shame on Houstonians for being so messy though.

  • We drove to New Orleans on the morning of Ash Wednesday two years ago and by the time we got there, there was not one speck of trash in the French Quarter. Ash Wednesday, for those who don’t realize it, is the day following Mardi Gras. The Quarter was scrubbed clean by early afternoon when we arrived, and there had been hundreds of thousands partying there only hours before. Now that was a cleanup…

  • This is news? KHOU should have just shown a video of some squirrels on water skis instead of trying to create something out of nothing.

  • Strange, I was able to place all of my refuse and recyclables into appropriate receptacles.

  • Why don’t they just wait and do one big clean-up after the 4th of July Freedom Fest or whatever it’s called? Just kidding. But I wonder how the aftermath of Summer Fest compares with the typical debris following Freedom Fest? I would guess that scene is worse.

  • This sort of reporting plays into the narrative of “people in the City (urban types) do not clean up after themselves the way people in the suburbs do”.

  • 1. people should not be such piglets and find a trash receptacle. Just because you pay to get in doesn’t mean you have freen rein to litter. Disgraceful.

    2. I don’t care big pieces of this or that or not. Without people in the way this should have started to be cleaned up bright and early Monday morning. No excuse not to have even a skeleton crew out there.

    3. Who raised these people? Why would you just throw your junk down where you are? What were they thinking and don’t give me that the trash was full. Put the empty in your backpack or purse or squish it and put it in your pocket.

    Yes there would be some waste after so many people but if each individual held themselves to a certain standard then there would not be so much trash.

    Attendees who littered and apparently there were very many of them – should be ashamed, ashamed, ashamed of themselves.

  • It’s important to remember that people do live in this area and would like to see it cleaned up quickly. Think about if a festival was in your back yard and you were left with all the trash for days. Living in an urban area has it’s advantages and disadvantages but if an event is planned, it should be planned all the way thru to the end including an efficient cleanup.

  • Did Woodlands look like this on Sunday morning after the big Jimmy Buffet concert saturday night? Seriously folks the absolute easiest thing to do to make a city look better is to pick up the litter and cover grafitti. OFF TOPIC somewhat… It is so disappointing to land at IAH, look out the window and see a field of trash blown everywhere. This is first impression people get when they arrive in Houston. And YES, this is news… PICK UP YOUR TRASH

  • Props to the organizers. This was an outstanding event. No surprise here that clean will take some time. This event has only been around a few years and is growing each year.

    Let’s get real on some of the numbers though. One of my friends works for one of the well known companies that paid a tidy sum to sponsor the event. According to him, the paid attendance was more like 25,000 people per day.

    I’m already looking forward to next year.

  • You can’t bake a cake without breaking a few eggs.

    This town needs more events, more festivals, more fun… and less anal retentiveness.

    As long as they eventually return the park to as good or better condition than before the festival started–who cares if it takes days or even weeks.

  • I thought the fest was fantastic and I liked the diversity of music. BUT. I drive Allen Parkway every day to and from work and yesterday and today (haven’t gone home yet) were disgusting with the amount of trash on the street, blowing around and piled up near Taft past where the fest ended. I have not had this thought in the past from the July 4th fest or from this fest last year. Somewhere there had to have been a breakdown. Get the trash contained on your site first, pressure wash the streets and get the commuting traffic back to normal and then see to taking the stages down. I look forward to the fest next year and know they will have a better system in place for trash pickup and removal.

  • Swamplot, where people go to suck. The trash is getting picked up. Shut up.


  • I agree with Zane – NOLA knows how to do large events. Somehow they manage to clean the fairgrounds each night of JazzFest to where there is no trash on the ground each morning.

    I am glad we have this new festival but I think the city needs to have a higher standard for the promoters to live up to if they want the city to issue the permit again. Maybe they can use some of the mega cash they made this year to hire an experienced event production company that can handle the logistics of 100K people.

  • After a hugely succesful festival, I find it unsatisfactory that the garbage sat untouched for a day and half, allowing a lot of trash to end up in the bayou. Perhaps summerfest should try to organize a volunteer based cleanup team to help on Monday next year to protect the bayou.

  • Having moved to Temple Terrace in 1986 (Taft and W Lamar – just behind Ch11 KHOU) and living there for 18 years prior to the onslaught of townhome development and influx of new inner loop residents, I know 1st hand how quickly the bayou cleanup happened after the annual Freedom Fest. During this same period, I was a daily runner (from the Y) of the bayou, so I recall the mounds of debris littering the park on my morning run. In addition, my office overlooked the bayou and I could watch cleanup. Let me just say, I saw many years that the ‘pit’ was cleaned most times by Noon one day after the big event. And by the time I commuted home to Taft, the bayou event site was completely picked up. Now, recycling wasn’t necessarily the priority during those days, but they got the bayou cleaned up in 1 day. So, if recycling is a priority, then haul off the trash and sort it out offsite. Our Allen Parkway parks (and the adjacent roadway) are just too beautiful to sit in such a messy state while worrying about the logistics of breakdown of equipt/stages and recycling sorting. And, shame on those who show no regard for our parks. It was the same ilk who would park their cars up and down my street, empty their bottles on our curbs, and even park directly in my driveway because they couldn’t ‘find’ a convenient place to park (those were quickly towed). So, after this past weekend’s event, I was surprised to see on my daily commute down Allen Parkway to my more recent residence in the Heights, the clean-up committee on this event REALLY dropped the ball.

  • Agree with other posters. I am a homeowner in this neighborhood and would like it cleaned. It’s poor planning, plain and simple and the organizers are making excuses. Cleaning and trash removal should be completed next day. Most people at this event go home to their suburban neighborhoods. Here’s an idea, how about we leave this trash in your yard for a few days.

  • Blah blah Temple Terrace, home of whiners. I’m in Alden place across the street and people were on their best. Sure there is a little broken glass in front of the corporate apartment complex near montrose, but that’s it. Whine about parking, someone paid me $20 to park in front of my house, and then offered another $20 for Sunday which I didn’t accept. I know the people who make this happen and you won’t find better people ANYWHERE, they are good friends and some of the best people I know. Wayne Coyne said it best give it 2 years and this will be one of the biggest festivals in the United States. Have some civic pride, and just because you don’t *get* it, doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile, try expanding your horizons. Even HPD was stellar, medical staff, and I’ve been picking up trash as a volunteer after working 9-10 hour days at my day job since 5pm yesterday. This will put our city on the map and garner the respect our city deserves. Yes people could be more cleanly, but then again I’ve never seen a more peaceful orderly festival anywhere, and comparing this to NOLA/Mardi Gras is exceptionally short sighted.

  • Nice.. now the park looks like last summer’s drought is still here.

    They need to move the concert to Edo.

  • This is my first time to see this website. We’ve been interested in seeing more of Houston and maybe moving there, but this article is giving us second thoughts. It’s sad that such a large population of people are so trashy and don’t care about their city. It’s also sad that the trash was left in place for thousands of people to drive through (I’m sure including many visitors who may never want to return to the city).

  • I jogged by the area yesterday after work and clean up is mediocre so far. Promoter might get an A for throwing a fun event, but he gets F for cleanup.

  • @Dan – If you are basing your “moving to Houston” decision on one article about festival trash, then we, the citizens of Houston Texas wish you would stay wherever you currently are and leave us be. I hear that California is looking for more people to help pay taxes.

    Congrats to the fest people on a successful concert and hopefully next year there will be more trash cans and recycling bins. Carry on people. . . .

  • Y’all want some cheese with that whine??

  • I would love some… can you pick up a bottle of Caymus?
    Any major festival will have trash like this. It is a fact of life, there is nothing we can do about it. People will simply not pick up after themselves in a festival setting. It isn’t a houston problem, it is a human problem. I’m sure there are examples of other countries where that isn’t the case, but I’m basing my opinion on the large festivals I’ve seen/been to (3 different countries) That being said, it is completely unacceptable to allow the trash to sit this long. Personally I think they should bring in highway construction style lighting and start the cleanup an hour after the event ends, in the least have clean up crews taking care of it on Monday.

  • You people suck. If i were in charge of the festival and read this, i’d leave the trash for another week just to piss you miserable souls off. My GOD, y’all love to complain.

  • Corey – it wasn’t whining, just an observation. I’m not judging the quality of the event or the prospect of how wonderful and big this event can become in the coming years. I’m just stating what has been my experience with this piece of public property and how other ‘organizers’ have dealt with the magnitude of attendants and the subsequent mess. It was ALWAYS picked up by the next day. I believe trustees from the County jail were enlisted to help with the cleanup. As for your ‘friends’ who organize this event (which I’m sure is fantastic – not doubting that), it’s always worthwhile for any event organizer to hold a post-mordem evaluation of what went right and what went wrong, and what can be improved upon in the future. All I’m saying is cleanup of our public park can (and has been) done much more expediently at events in the past as large as this.

  • I was at the festival. It seemed quite well-run, although some trash bins were starting to look a bit overwhelmed by the end of day 2. But that’s to be expected, I suppose.

    But I think it’s legitimate for people to want the park–a heavily-used urban park–to be cleaned up ASAP after the festival. It would be one thing if this festival were held on private land or in a remote place. But given the location, FPH should have been more diligent and timely about the clean up. This is the fourth Summerfest, and each one has attracted more festival goers than the last. I understand that some things don’t get anticipated (did they expect this much trash?), particularly when a festival is growing so fast. So I hope FPH learns from this and is quicker to clean up their mess next year.

  • Summerfest has got to be the stupidest most pointless music festival. I dont understand how anyone could want to be out in the hot sun all day listening to crappy music.

  • Then by all means continue listening to Sunny 99.1 radio KOMA. You’re either too old, or have no taste whatsoever, as there was something for everyone. Everyone from Willie Nelson for the older set, to Snoop and Z-ro, tons of electronic acts, Flaming lips doing darkside of the moon, Clap your hands and say yeah, Young the giant for you indie kids, plenty of funk/soul, and if you wanted avante garde/weirdness look no further than the Super Happy Fun land stage. I can’t believe how short sighted and ill informed you are. But do enjoy your new copy of the new Wilson Phlilips CD as I’m sure you know oh so much about music.

  • And Miss/Misses Temple Terrace you want to do something useful why not shut down the rub and tug aka massage parlor on W Dallas? It’s obviously a front for prostitution. Your HOA is lax beyond belief.. Sincerely, Alden Place..

  • SFP, The only thing worse than people making complaints, is the know-it-all/ I’m better than you/self entitled person who follows up with complaints about the complaints. Miserable soul indeed.

  • YES! I love you right Corey! You made my day

  • @Caneco: you have convinced me to litter my ass off next year at the festival. Thanks. Looking forward to it.

  • It was a great event, I live in the neighborhood and yes it will take a little time to pick up all the trash. If you all would like something to go complain to city hall about – take a look at the trash that is constanly left on the side of the road in the mini-ghetto east of Taft behind the new Carnegie High School. Those folks use the storm drain as their trash can and it goes directly to the bayou. This polluting does not end when the bands go home.

  • I was at the festival both days and thought it was fantastic. Can’t believe the trash folks left behind. I just don’t get it – how hard is it to drop it in a receptacle? There were plenty for trash and recyclables.

  • By the way whiners, it’s 10x worse today than it was the Monday after Summerfest. But for some odd reason you’re OK with the 4th of July trash, everywhere, including the streets of my neighborhood. Along Allen Parkway and Memorial it looks like a war zone this morning, and unlike summerfest no one is cleaning it up as of yet..