The Meadows Festival Takes Over Citi Field
By Jen Khedaroo
Founders Entertainment, a concert experience company, has managed to reinvent summer music festivals in New York with their highly successful annual Governors Ball.
And after nearly two years of development, the company’s idea of a fall festival within the five boroughs is finally coming to fruition.
The Meadows Music and Arts Festival, which took place the weekend of October 1st and 2nd at Citi Field in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, presented quite the impressive lineup.
During the two-day event, music lovers had the opportunity to watch performances from more than 42 artists across four different stages. Performers include Grammy-winner Kanye West and J.Cole, who attended college at St. John’s University, as well as Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Cage the Elephant, Mac Miller and Zella Day.
According to Tom Russell and Jordan Wolowitz, partners of Founders Entertainment, although The Meadows will be as diverse as Governors Ball, the new festival is meant to slightly differentiate itself with more pop and radio-friendly music. While on the other hand, Governors Ball tends to skew more alternative.
For must-see artists, Wolowitz recommended Kygo and Chance the Rapper, who he deemed “the young artists who are really making the leap to headliner status.”
“As concert promoters, we’re constantly looking for who’s going to be the next headliner, or the headliner for Governors Ball in 2018 or 2019,” Wolowitz said.
West, who was unable to perform at Governors Ball due to the inclement weather, performed to the festival’s largest crowd.
When searching for the right venue in their hometown, the organizers shortlisted areas including Governors Island, Randall’s Island and Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Ultimately, they reached a deal with Citi Field and Metropolitan Hospitality, a subsidiary of the New York Mets.
“It was a few years after Governors Ball was really dialed in, after we had a couple years of success and sellouts, that we started looking at what would work for us as a company,” Wolowitz said. “Governors Ball was in a really good place at that point and we started to look at how we could grow.
“It became abundantly clear to us that the fall was an ideal time to do our next big event,” Wolowitz added. “College kids are back at school, and there are a lot of people here who would want a music festival, and the weather is, quite frankly, spectacular in the fall. It’s almost like going to a festival in San Francisco in the summertime.”
While it’s difficult to predict whether or not The Meadows will garner the same amount of support and backing that Governors Ball has, there is hope that the festival will have the same type of impact on the local economy over the following years.
In 2015, the economic development and site location consulting firm Angelou Economics found that Governors Ball provided $24.5 million in benefits to the city and $6.2 million in local tax revenue.
Among a sea of incredible food vendors, the Festival of Queens was a gem. The Arepa Lady, La Esquina Del Camaron Mexicano, Pata Paplean, Dhaulagiri Kitchen and Tortas Neza offered up authentic cuisine from Mexico, Colombia, Thailand and Nepal. Momofuku Milk Bar, Ramen Burger, Bareburger, Asia Dog, Davey’s Ice Cream, Sweet Chili and Hippie Dips were all vendors at The Meadows.
“We’re working with local Queens restaurants who are known for their really amazing, ethnic foods from around the world,” Russell said prior to the event.
To spice up the festival even more, The Meadows incorporated several art elements. Working with Queens-based graffiti and performance artists, there were unique art structures and pop-up performances throughout the weekend.
Art installations included Queens-themed murals by Dek, Minus, Lovenotes, Reup, Doug Aldrich, Ye Park and Chris RWK.
“One of the things we like to do is surprise and delight our attendees,” Russell said. “It’s something that always keeps our fans on their toes and we’ll be following suit by really embracing the local community to make this something unique and special.”
Besides music and food, festival organizers have teamed up with local organizations to give back to the Queens community. A portion of the festival’s proceeds were donated to the Queens Library and Answer the Call, a charitable organization affiliated with the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children’s Benefit Fund.
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