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This also includes a list of the most notorious organizers hiding behind their event names, and their festivals to avoid.
TLDR: - OMG Food Fest is misleading the public about its event - Christopher McMurray (Chris Mac) is the real name of the Green Light Events organizer responsible for OMG Food Fest - almost all of the known food events and festivals organized by Green Light Events are listed - other shady food festival organizers and their festivals listed
Depending on the pages and friends you follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, chances are 0you've seen social media ads for OMG Food Fest.
There's also the possibility you've seen linked articles about the festival shared on Facebook. If so, don't fall victim to this festival and its shady practices. https://www.facebook.com/events/222145518790055/?active_tab=discussion
OMG Food Fest is being marketed as the world's first hip-hop music and food festival. It's taking place in Houston this Saturday, March 14. It was planned originally for March 7 at either Peggy Park or Emancipation Park. The organizers announced a venue change in February, moving to the event to Midtown Park because of ticket sales and demand. The festival is organized by Green Light Events
. Amanda Sapp of Asapp Productions
was hired as the event's publicist (she's also a radio personality at KMAZ-LP 102.5 FM) .
The food festival promises "tons of food vendors, shopping, outdoor games, [and] activities," while they "keep you entertained with the city's best Djs and bands playing hip-hop, rap [and] old-school [music]." Here's the real deal: it's all smoke and mirrors.
First of all, there isn't a website for the event. It's not just this event either. Many if not all of events and festivals from Green Light Events don't have a website. The events all have web domains redirecting to Eventbrite. And the Eventbrite ticketing pages lacks lots of information. That's a huge warning sign.
To date, there isn't a list of food and beverage vendors for OMG Food Fest. When tickets went on sale in January, the festival didn't provide a list of participating food vendors. That's a major component to know being it's a food festival. It's also a warning sign many should have taken into account from the beginning. Another warning ? Green Light Events asked for food vendors the day tickets went live and a couple of weeks leading up to the festival. Food vendors and participants should be in place the moment the event and ticket sales go live. That wasn't so with OMG Food Fest.
Some food vendors were announced later by Green Light Events on OMG Food Fest's event page on Facebook, but none are listed under the description or on the ticket site powered by Eventbrite. The vendors posted in separate posts were: Krave Funnel Cakes, Foreign Policy, Kono Pizza, and American Lobster and Seafood. Other food vendors that will supposedly be in attendance are Tila's Tacos, Toros Barbecue, A Diff Swirl, Peirre's Cajun Creations, and Skillet Cajun, per each of their Facebook pages. I found those after performing various Facebook searches. None have been confirmed or listed as vendors by Green Light Events. Basically, it's a glorified food truck festival with a handful of known food trucks and the rest unknown food vendors.
After months of requests for food vendor information, Green Light Events began deleting comments and blocking people. The organizer or its publicist responded rudely to ticket holders and those wanting to buy tickets but wanted answers. One reply from Green Light Events in response to why they haven't released the list of vendor with the event a week away,was this: "For reasons that we don't need to explain. We will get it up either tonight or tomorrow morning." The response from Green Light Events was Friday. It's Monday and still no official list of participating food and beverage vendors in sight.
Another shady practice of Green Light Events? Using photos found on Instagram of food from non-participating restaurants that won't be available at their events. No trustworthy festival would use photos of foods from restaurants, chefs, or other food vendors that aren't participating. But that's what Green Light Events is doing:
The photo of the chicken pieces served in a waffle cone are from Chick'nCone, which is not participating in this event at all. The other photo used to promote this event is of a burger that's from from Bleecker St. Burger, a restaurant in England:
Last week, a week before OMG Food Festival takes place, Green Light Events adds a VIP package. The VIP is $500 for 8 or more people. What credible food festival does that at the last minute? And for what's a glorified food truck festival that won't have anything special?
One glance at the event page filled with grammatical and spelling errors, and it's clear it's not a professional event. It is certainly not one deserving of anyone's money. But that hasn't stopped people from shelling out for tickets. It also hasn't stopped this event from getting a lot of publicity.
Channel 2 ( KPRC) and Narcity wrote about this event. Each of the articles were shared over 8 thousand times on Facebook alone (Close to 40k shared Narcity's article on Facebook), thereby giving this event legitimacy without doing their due diligence in making sure the event and its organizers are trustworthy:
In addition to Channel 2 (KPRC / Click2Houston) and Narcity failing to research and verify Green Light Event's track record with festivals (and its overall lack of professionalism), neither news sources bothered verifying if the press release sent to them by Green Light Events (or hired publicist Amanda Sapp) was accurate. If either publication did, they'd discover within a minute Google search OMG Food Fest (aka the Hip Hop Food Festival) is NOT the world's first hip hop food festival as it claims
. At least one event from 2015 shows a festival called the The Cookout: An Annual Hip-Hop & Food Festival. The festival is/was held in Ontario, Canada. There were probably others predating The Cookout. But it goes to show credible news sources the public trusts (though I wouldn't put Narcity in that company), don't do their due diligence in making sure what is reported is factual.
Other digital magazines and website have publicized this event with articles also posted to Facebook. Because of the reach of those article, and the reach due to promoted Facebook and Instagram posts and ads, news of the event has spread all over the state and across the country. From the comments on the event page, people are flying and driving into town, purchased lodging accommodations because they're attending this festival. Sadly, they're in for nothing but disappointment.
And with so many questions surrounding OMG Food Fest , the biggest should be who is Green Light Events. Green Light Events is the same organizer behind the disastrous King of Crawfish Festival held two weeks ago in Houston.
It was discussed on Reddit the day after the festival:
Green Light Events didn't apologize for the event on Facebook. Instead, they wrote rude replies to angry patrons, deleting comment on both Facebook and Instagrams, blocking people, and ultimately deleting the Facebook event page for King of Crawfish Fest and the Facebook page for King of Crawfish Fest. These measures are always taken to make it seem as if the event was a success. Or if people try to look at the event from the previous year, they won't find much about it ot many negative comments.
Interestingly enough, Green Light Events sent ticket holders a recap letter through Eventbrite where they claimed the event was a success, for the most part: https://i.imgur.com/Jz9S1j6.jpg
The organizer did admit there were issues, which were glossed over. But what's more surprising is the gall to blame most of the failures because it was their first all-you-can-eat King of Crawfish Fest. That is partially true. This was the second year Green Light Events produced the King of Crawfish Fest. Last year, someone asked Reddit about King of Crawfish Fest and the event was also publicized on Facebook (the page was deleted after the festival) and Eventbrite. This year was the first for all-you-can-eat crawfish:
King of Crawfish Fest received much of its exposure the same as their OMG Food Fest, ads and promoted posts on Facebook and Instagram. There were also an article promoting the event on Narcity. Houston Chronicle helped give the event legitimacy with an article of its own that was shared over four thousand times on Facebook alone. https://imgur.com/a/qaG5Sc3
There is no transparency with Green Light Events. The general public does not know who's behind Green Light Events, an organizer who's been producing food festivals since 2017 (with the same results: poor planning, severely under-delivering, deletes Facebook event page when lots of people complain to limit others from knowing how the events actually turned out, etc). That's because the organizer goes out of their way to hide their identity. But knowing who is involved with Green Light Events is important for the public's sake. The continued practice of organizing fraudulent festivals that never deliver on its promises should be reported. A name is needed to report this organizer to the city's Special Events Office and the state's attorney general. If more of these organizers are brought to light, then the more they will be held accountable and people can avoid them altogether.
So, who makes up Green Light Events
? Christopher McMurray
or Chris McMurray
for short . He also goes by the names Chris Mac
on social media. Here's his photo:
Photo of Christopher McMurray, the organizer hiding behind Green Light Events
He operates his events under the entity Space City Events LLC
(his name and entity's name are key information if reporting his events and shady business practice to the city and the state).
The extent of McMurray's hospitality experience is as a club promoter mostly. He promotes parties for Access Lounge. In the past, he promoted parties for Bar Republic. McMurray has little hospitality experience in the food and restaurant industry in Houston. His Instagram bio lists him as the owner of Sauced Up food truck.
Other food and beverage festivals produced by McMurray, some dating back to 2017, include (you can also search for their Eventbrite listings):
◆ Trap Wine Fest
◆ Taste of New Orleans
(I don't know if Timothy Hudson was involved with this, but at one time Hudson was involved in an event with the same branding)
◆ The Houston Food Fest
◆ Midtown Wine Fest
(a repackaged festival of its fail-tastic Wine on the Green)
◆ Wine on the Green
◆ King of Crawfish Fest
◆ H-Town Crawfish Fest
◆ H-Town on Tap Beer Fest
◆ Fiesta Del Taco
McMurray goes out of his way not to link himself or Green Light Events to the Houston Food Fest and Midtown Wine Fest on Facebook and Eventbrite. Green Light Events is not listed as the organizer on either event pages. It's possible McMurray goes to such lengths because those two festivals are his cash cow events that attracts a wider audience and demographic (i.e. marketing to a potential white audience). However, Narcity included Green Light Events as the organizer of the Houston Food Fest in its infomercial article for OMG Food Fest. There are permits and records, including a DBA for Texas Wine Events
filed in January (there's a Facebook page too), linking both events to Chris McMurray of Green Light Events.
McMurray and his shadow company Green Light Events also organizes music festivals. I have not attended the music festivals he's organized in the past, but if they're anything like his food festivals, it may be best to avoid:
◆ Houston Zydeco Fest
◆ Reggae in the Park
◆ Soul Flower Music Festival
Steer Clear of These Other Food Festivals (Wine Festivals) and Their Organizers
I put together a list of organizers and their festivals that are either questionable, proved to be scams, or turned out to be complete disasters. Reference this or pass it along so others are informed. Maybe local news stations will look into this further since almost all the major local news stations have helped legitimized many of these festivals by promoting them to their viewers.
Remember the debacle of Houston Beer Fest
's inaugural festival? If not, Hudson organized the event. There are countless articles about the festival, Hudson, and others involved:
Hudson also had several court cases in Harris County, including theft by check
. He also organized the
Houston Food Truck Festival The Best Damn Food Truck Festival Ever
around the same time as Houston Beer Fest's duration. He's still in the food and beverage festival business bilking people out of their money with sub-par events.
Below are events and food festivals he's organized (or is involved in some way be it through marketing the event or assisting in the production of the festivals ) in recent years, including this year. You wouldn't know he's involved because his name is not listed in any of the event's descriptions. The events also don't provide the organizer's name on Eventbrite and on their Facebook event page to inform the publc the festivals are from the same organizer:
◆ Houston Wine Festival
( This went by the name Houston Wine Fest
in its first few years & were disasters + rip-offs; read more about it here
◆ Houston Food & Wine Fest
◆ The Urban Food & Wine Fest
◆ Houston Cocktail Fest
◆ Houston Seafood Fest
◆ OktoberFest Houston
◆ The Crawfish & Music Fest or may go by the name Houston Crawfish & Music Fest
◆ Houston Cider Fest
◆ Houston Moscato Fest
◆ Taco X Tequila Fest
In regards to the Houston Cocktail Fest and how it connects to Timothy Hudson, it was kind of tricky to find; which is usually the point (organizers of shady events or festivals won't connect themselves to newly created events in fear people won't purchase tickets because of their past events). There isn't a Facebook page for Houston Cocktail Fest, but there is an event page
on Facebook for the festival with Shake Stir Sip Inc
listed as the organizer. The same organizer is the producer of the Austin Cocktail Fest
. There is also an Eventbrite listing
for Houston Cocktail Fest. Like all the other festivals from Hudson listed above, the organizer isn't listed on Eventbrite. Towards the bottom of their Eventbrite page is a list of other festivals from the organizer. Guess which festivals are listed as other events of the unlisted organizer? Many of the festivals listed above, which connects this festival to Hudson.
Further digging uncovered the entity TBK Holdings
listed as the producer and organizer of the following festivals: Houston Seafood Fest, Houston Crawfish & Music Fest, the Urban Food & Wine Fest, and Houston Cider Fest. DBA records filed in Harris County for TBK Holdings list Timothy Hudson, the same Timothy behind Houston Beer Fest. TBK Holdings is not associated with TBK Holdings Inc, the parent company of the Breakfast Klub, Reggae Hut, Signature Kafe, the Alley Kat, and Kulture.
Hudson may also have involvement or is associated with EW Media Group
(or EWMedia Group
) who are involved in some way with these food festivals and drink festivals in the Houston area:
◆ Brazilian Food & Music Festival
◆ La Izquierda Surf & Music Festival
◆ Houston Reggae Fest
(The Reggae Group aka the International Reggae Group is the organizer. Special event permits for this event list Timothy Hudson. He's assisting in some capacity with the event)
◆ Woodlands Margarita Festival
The Houston Margarita Festival
is produced by Jirmar Proctor
of Escutcheon Entertainment
. Proctor is also the organizer of Woodlands Margarita Festival
, Humble Margarita Festival
, Austin Margarita Festival
, and Beaumont Margarita Festival
. Proctor's festivals aren't the best IMO and really under-delivers, but at least he's transparent some. He makes it known he is the organizer of those festivals. Transparency aside, this isn't a festival worth attending.
Jordan Cummings and Ta' Whitmore
Cummings and Whitmore make up Late Nites Early Mornings or LNEM Events. Like Chris McMurray of Green Light Events food and drink festivals organized by LNEM Events are more about a party atmosphere than the food. Past events on Facebook and Eventbrite list more parties than anything food related. The organizers are not involved in any aspect of Houston's food community. It's evident from their events with obscure food vendors. Their events also have restaurants, food trucks, and chefs that aren't well known in Houston.
Last year's Nola Boil was cancelled over the weather. Refunds weren't provided to ticket purchasers. LNEM Events provided tickets to their Hennything Fest instead of refunds, much to the dismay of angry ticket holders. Duplicating the pattern most failed festivals or festival rip-offs, LNEM Events deleted much of negative comments and posts, blocked people, and removed the review portion of their page preventing people from leaving a review.
LNEM Events also hosts the Hennything Fest, a festival for all things Hennessy purpotedly. Their most recent Hennything Fest was held in Dallas. Many complained of the festival being a scam and a rip-off. Many of the original comments were removed from the event page and Instagram, but some complaints can be found on public Facebook profiles. Last week, Narcity wrote an infomerical article promoting LNEM Event's Henneything Fest, further helping spread this festival to people on Facebook and Instagram.
Most of the food and drink festivals from LNEM Events are listed below.
◆ The Nola Boil ◆ Hennything Fest (a Hennessy festival) ◆ The Houston Daiquiri Fest ◆ Funtober Fest
Bar Crawl Nation
This company isn't based in Houston, but does hosts bar crawls across the country. Like the other events above, Bar Crawl Nation uses the power of social media to promote its events, placing promoted ads on Facebook and Instagram.
Bar Crawl Nation has a website, dedicated email address, and an app to register for their events. Everything looks on the up and up, but the crawls severely under-delivers. The crawls makes up bars along Washington Ave with discounts for food and drinks provided the week of the event and when checking in on the app. YMMV if the discounted prices are worth the hassle or time. Bar crawl attendees who participated in events in other cities have complained.
So, while not a rip-off as the other events above, you may be better off attending a local bar crawl that has a better track record or create your own bar crawl. .
Ways to Sniff Out a Food Festival That is Probably a Scam or a Rip-Off
Last year, CultureMap listed a number of ways to sniff out a food festival that's a rip-off, a scam, or will under-deliver. It's a good starting point in gauging whether or not a food festival is a scam or will be a total $%^show. The list could also apply to music festivals, cultural festivals, or any niche festival.
Houston Food Finder also lists red flags to look for in an article about Houston Brunch Fest
(or HTX Brunch Fest
, organized by Bruce Bray
of Bray Consulting Firm
and Diiverse Entertainment
Each festival has an audience they're targeting. One festival may appeal to one person, while it won't to another. Not every food festival in the Houston area will be a Chris Shepherd produced Southern Smoke or Houston Barbecue Festival, but that doesn't mean they have to be a bait and switch either. Regardless of a festival's target demographic, no one deserves to be duped of their money. People attending a food or beverage festival want to experience the food, they want to meet the people behind the food, they want to enjoy themselves while getting their money's worth. It's as simple as that. However, some organizers are money and fame hungry, throwing festivals to line their pockets without caring about the consumer or vendors.
A rule of thumb is do your research before handing over your money (and credit card information) to people you don't know. Here are more ways to to spot a potential festival scam or rip-off and how to be proactive:
◆ Look at past events organized.
- If the organizer's name is listed alongside the event/festival, check their Facebook event page or click on the organizer's name on the Eventbrite page to view other events produced.
- If the promotions for those events look sketchy, avoid it.
- Search for reviews of past events/festivals organized on Facebook, Yelp, Reddit, Groupon, and Twitter to read accounts from festival attendees.
- If you can't find an event page on Facebook for past events organized, or there isn't a dedicated Facebook business page for it, 9 out of 10 times it's because the organizers removed the pages to hide all the negative comments from attendees who considered the festivals as scams and rip-offs. In hiding the or deleting the page from the public, it limits the public from viewing how poorly organized and tip-offs their past events were.
- If the organizer also hosts or promotes parties at dance clubs (this is sometimes shown by viewing past or upcoming events organized by the festival producers), avoid the food festival they're promoting at all costs.
◆ Check if the main attractions (i.e. food, chefs, and beverage participants) are listed.
- Organizers of food festivals who only care about lining their pockets will not list participants (this includes food vendors and entertainment). These sketch organizers may never provide a partial or full list of participating food vendors. Other times, the organizers will list a partial or full list of vendors a few weeks or days before the event after ticket holders purchased their tickets. If you come across an event that divulges in this kind of deceitful practice, avoid it. Reputable festivals or food events will list participants once tickets are available for purchase. Providing a list of participants gives transparency and allows consumers to be informed before deciding whether to purchase tickets or not.
- If there are food vendors or participating chefs or restaurants listed at the onset of ticket sales, contact the listed vendors to verify if they will be in attendance. This only applies to festivals or events from organizers you don't know or can't find any information about their identity and operations through normal search methods (like Google, trusted news sources). Sometimes shady organizers who hide their identities (or there's little to zero information about their festivals) will list vendors who've never committed to attend, or worse, know nothing about the festival.
Excuse the typos and other errors. The keyboard on my laptop is broken and there's a delay when typing due to problems with the motherboard.
Information found on the state comptroller's website, Harris County Clerk's website, and the mayor's office of special events' website