On the eve of the most anticipated summer event in Mississauga, the audience waits in excited expectation, because the bar has been set so high in previous years! MuslimFest is the long awaited festival at Celebration Square that showcases some of the best Muslim Talent around the world and brings it right home to us in the GTA! But before the curtains rise and the show opens, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to set the stage.
In the middle of Eid celebrations and finalizing details for the two day festivities at the Square, Lanterns caught up with Saffraz Khan, Event Director of MuslimFest for two years. He gave us some insider information for the upcoming shows, and explained the process and planning that goes behind the action packed weekend!
Lanterns: When did you start planning for MuslimFest 2014?
Saffraz Khan: (Laughing) At the end of MuslimFest 2013! Planning starts almost immediately after we wrap up that year’s show. To bring an event of this scale to the GTA requires almost a year of coordination and preparations!
Lanterns: Who are the people behind the success of MuslimFest?
Saffraz Khan: The success of the festival comes entirely from our audience and volunteers who make it all happen. The planning can be done on paper, but if the people who are executing it on the ground and attending aren’t having fun and enjoying themselves, the show isn’t successful. You need the right combination of enthusiastic volunteers and excited crowd to build the atmosphere!
Lanterns: So who takes care of planning the event?
Saffraz Khan: The team is made up of several people. We have a core team that consists of the event director, six officers, and three board members. These are the people who are with the project from the first day. But credit goes to our amazing committees. We divide the work into six subcategories – Sponsorship, Operations, Program, Bazaar, Volunteer Management, and Artist Relation. Each of these committees manages their own tasks independently to bring the entire festival to life.
Lanterns: When do these committees get formed?
Saffraz Khan: The committees come together by December, and we spend extensive hours training all the members to ensure top quality. We need to make sure all the people in charge are aligned with our goal to make the festival engaging and exciting for the audience.
Lanterns: How does it all come together?
Saffraz Khan: MuslimFest isn’t just limited to stage performances. There is so much more happening. From the food stalls to bazaar vendors, children’s entertainment and rides to the individual workshops, there is a lot going on over the weekend. We need to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly. It’s challenging, and can’t be done unless there is methodical planning and execution. It’s not easy, but we’re blessed to have an amazing team and wonderful volunteers who bring it all together!
Lanterns: What should the audience look out for this year?
Saffraz Khan: There is so much exciting stuff happening, for all ages and all types of people. Everyone will find something to love. But the talk of the town is our version of Saturday Night Live – the anticipated comedy under the stars, featuring Preacher Moss founder of the Allah Made Me Funny group. You don’t want to miss this show on Saturday night!
Lanterns: Answer the million dollar question… how do you feel when you wake up on the morning of the festival?
Saffraz Khan: (Laughing) Who says I sleep the night before? To tell you the truth, there’s so much nervous anticipation that I really don’t sleep! But the entire day is full of excitement. There’s a buzz at the Square and everyone’s a part of it. I know that I’m responsible for the overall event, but I’m not the only one who wants to see the festival succeed. There is a team of wonderful people who are all there to ensure MuslimFest is a success, and it’s with the help of all these people, that we’re able to put on a show of this caliber!
ISNA Lanterns would like to thank the MuslimFest team for taking time out to give us some insight that goes into putting the show together, as well as a sneak peak at this weekend’s attractions!
Our team will be there… hopefully you will too!