Last week, the first ever Houston Margarita Festival took place at Downtown's Discovery Green park. The premise was simple: pay either $15 or $60 (VIP) to try a bunch of different kinds of margaritas and listen to live music. However, as with the Houston Beer Fest in 2011, organizers couldn't deliver on their promises.
Specifically, upset attendees complained that lines to get in and order drinks were too long, the promised food for VIPs disappeared and the only margarita flavors available were lime and strawberry. People flooded the event's Facebook page with complaints; when they started to disappear, people moved to this thread on the Eater Houston page to express their outrage.
Here's a few of the complaints:
It was absolutely horrible. No organization at all. There were no signs telling you where to go, the staffers either ignored you or were rude if you asked them a question, VIP area was out of food and was selling drinks to non VIPs. I actually witnessed a couple of staffers yelling at a couple who was politely asking for a refund due to the lack of organization. We left after lass than 30 minutes and will never go back.
Three friends and I purchased VIP tickets at $64 each for the Houston Margarita Festival, which supposedly included admission, VIP tents, a variety of margarita flavors at a discounted price, a buffet, and unlimited chips and salsa. We arrived at the event at 3:30pm, only to be asked to stand in a very long line for our VIP entrance, while people without tickets, or with general admission tickets, were getting in immediately. After speaking with 3 different staff members, we received our bands and made our way in. There was no designation as to where the VIP area was located, the drink lines were ridiculously long, and they only had 2 flavors of margaritas. We then asked about the location of the VIP area, and when we made our way there, there was not enough seating, not enough tents, absolutely NO margaritas or food. We were able to get some chips, but they had even run out of salsa.
We arrived right when it opened and did not have the problems of others. There were no lines or crowds, and we even found seats in the shade. It still sucked-there was no variety, things were way too expensive and very few interesting vendors. We stayed 40 minutes and will never go back. I am very happy we did not pay full price for the tickets, but between parking, entrance and drink tickets, we spent $45 for three not very good margaritas.
Organizers have been apologetic but not very accommodating. In a statement, they said that "We are aware of frustrations and disappointments from some festival goers regarding the VIP section, lines and food/drink selections (among other things) and regret any festival attendee's experience that was less outstanding." They apologized for removing people's Facebook posts and said it was an accident. In lieu of a refund, they've invited festival goers to visit Double Cross Lounge, Hearsay Houston or the Distillery to receive a free margarita tomorrow and Thursday between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.
Meanwhile, as CultureMap's Sarah Rufca suggests, when it comes to first year festivals, "Maybe Houstonians should adopt the philosophy of savvy tech users — no matter how great the product sounds, wait for the second version — that's when they've worked all the issues out."
· Houston Margarita Festival [Facebook]
· Long Lines and No Tequila?! Houston Margarita Festival Leaves Sour Taste [CultureMap]
[Photo: Houston Margarita Festival/Facebook]