Why Curlfest Was Not At All What It Was Cracked Up To Be

I was so hype for Curlfest this year. It was my first time going and I had heard nothing but positive reviews. Alas, this may have just been my first and last time going. I don’t go to any event expecting the worst. I wholeheartedly wanted to love this display of #BlackGirlMagic. I wanted to come away feeling renewed, having spent time surrounded by my tribe. However, I left hot, hungry, and disappointed.  I was rooting for you Curlfest, I really was.

I probably should have put more stock into the tomfoolery that led up to the event, during ticket sales. Early bird tickets went in a flash, without any hiccups, but I missed out on that. However, the first site CurlyGirlCollective, which is who puts on Curlfest, contracted with crashed during general admission ticket sales. Their Instagram was aflame with angry, potential customers who just wanted a ticket to what is supposed to be the natural hair event to end all natural hair events. Amidst all the anger and confusion, there were relative crickets from CurlyGirlCollective. Some people were able to secure tickets through the faulty site, while most couldn’t. All we were eventually told was that they would be moving it to another ticketing platform. So for those of us who used our lunch break and had scheduled the time to be on our computers or on our phones at the designated time, it was all for naught. They eventually informed everyone that they would be doing ticket sales again through Eventbrite the following week. This time it actually ran smoothly.

For all this trouble, we are then told we don’t actually need tickets to attend. You just need them in order to get the goodie bags. Oh, okay. That makes sense. It’s in an open park, so people usually just pop up when they see what’s going on anyway. So color me surprised when I arrive at the start time and the line to get in and get a goodie bag is a mile long. No, I’m not exaggerating. The line was legit a mile long. I had spent so much time stressing over getting a ticket that I chose to stand on that line in hopes of getting a bag. But of course, they ran out before 12:45. I wouldn’t have known that if it wasn’t for being on the phone with a friend who had been in line even earlier than myself. Unlike most events with long entrance lines, there was no staff keeping attendees abreast of information. Who knows how long people continued to wait on that line before they heard that 1. they didn’t need to be in the line to enter Curlfest and 2. that the bags were long gone unless you had paid for an early bird ticket.

Enter the event. Although I didn’t get a bag I was still excited to be there. There were so many hair care lines I wanted to check out and potentially purchase from. It should have been smooth sailing from there. But nope! The lines at many of the sponsor booths were at a standstill and no one could figure out why. Staff should be giving their sales pitches, handling purchases, giving out samples, and folks should just be moving along. I don’t know why that wasn’t happening. But line after line I hopped on may as well been a line for a new ride at Six Flags.

I eventually gave up on trying to go to the booths of sponsors and get samples, so I made my way to the vendors. Apparently, nobody was prepared for the number of people that came to Curlfest, despite tickets sales, previous years attendance, and social media activity. The more popular vendors ran out of products very early in the day. As in 1pm early, when the event started at noon. Many were understaffed as well. I won’t place blame here or there because I don’t know if there was a lack of communication about the potential number of customers on Curlfest’s part or poor planning on the vendor’s part.

I was quite irritable at this point and realized it was a combination of being hungry and the heat. Thankfully I brought my own water because there were no water stations and no vendors selling water on a 90 degree day in the middle of an open field. While nobody can plan for the heat, they can definitely plan for food. Or so I thought. There was a total of maybe 5 food trucks and the lines were ridiculous. This is when I knew it was time to take my leave. I was not finna pass out from heat and hunger just for an “experience.”

Curlfest wasn’t all bad though. The energy of the attendees was beautiful. The outfits and hair were phenomenal. I managed to get a Cocotique beauty box for $15. Plus, I met up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a month of Sundays.

In all, Curlfest was poorly planned and executed. They were ill prepared for the number of people that came. Their communication with attendees lacked.  Signage was almost non-existent upon entering the park, so most of us were just following other women with afros in hopes we were going to the right place. For a crowded event in the middle of the summer, outside to not have water stations or at least water vendors was dangerous. I wanted so much better from them. I hope that the negative feedback they have and will continue to receive pushes them to make Curlfest better. The premise is amazing, but the execution left much to be desired.

17 thoughts on “Why Curlfest Was Not At All What It Was Cracked Up To Be

  1. Toya says:

    I appreciate the honest critique of the event. This was my second year in attendance and I will have to say as the event gets bigger the important details seem to fall by the waist side. It’s really just a natural hair picnic at this point. I still enjoyed it and I hope as they get more attention and sponsorship, they will be able to hire more people to help with organization and communication.

  2. I am so glad someone is voicing their frustration on a greater scale about Curlfest. This was my third time going and I opted out of getting a gift bag ticket because my experience with getting my “early bird” gift bag was horrible last year…and just went and took photos of the event. Pretty much everything you described at this years event happened last year. The 2015 event, however was a bit more organized and there were a lot more Naturalista Youtubers there for meet and greets and workshops. I had a great experience then. Now that the crowd is getting larger by the year it’s just a get together. It’s sad that the organizers have not learned from last years unorganized mess and I honestly don’t think they care as long as the crowd numbers are high. Sorry your first time was not great and hopefully they will improve, if only they listen to the peoples frustrations about their lack of organizing skills. Next year, if you go, don’t get a ticket and bring a blanket and a picnic basket 🙂

    • SanityThief says:

      If I go next year I’ll definitely be bringing my own food. I had a blanket, so at least I got to rest, but an umbrella is a must if there is a next time for me. The sun was blazing hip hop and r&b. Lol

  3. I’m sorry to hear that! Sounds like it wasn’t properly planned or executed. The pictures that I saw made me want to attend next year. After reading this, I may have to pass….

  4. I was also at Curlfest and although I enjoyed the event, I did share some of your frustrations. I happened to bring water and snacks so I was okay but that is a major fail on their end. But I must say, I enjoyed the energy, positivity, and #blackgirlmagic that was shown throughout the entire day. But it was HOT!!!

    • SanityThief says:

      Thank goodness I brought my own water too. The attendees were all amazing and I hope that Curlfest will improve. The whole concept is amazing.

  5. I’m sad to hear about the poor execution of the event. From the photos from social media, everyone looked beautiful. Hopefully this serves as a lesson to do better next year…

    • SanityThief says:

      Everyone there was gorgeous and had great energy! They were making the best of what they were given and made it a fabulous bonding experience.

  6. Hate to hear it wasn’t a great experience for you and perhaps a number of others! Sometimes you learn by trial and error. Hopefully it will be a much better experience for attendees next year should they continue. Considering they’ve been doing this for some time now, there shouldn’t have been that many issues so that’s extremely disheartening. Do better Curlfest!

  7. Wow, im not from nor do I live in New York so I couldn’t go but I was dying to know about the event. I’m saddened that it was poorly planned. After years and years of experience, it should only go up, right? Interesting recap and read! Let these people know… Hopefully they’ll fix it!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I can assuredly agree with all of that. The only food I ate throughout the day was a banana & a couple pieces of watermelon. After a while, it just turned into a let me take cute pics event versus learning & seeing about a bunch of new products, which is what I hoped to get out of it. You hit it right on w just about all its flaws.

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