Children from the Baltimore area enjoy their time behind the wheel at the ISB Summerfest where underage driving is encouraged. Photos by Muslim Link.
Excitement was in the air as the annual Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) Summerfest began on Saturday, July 14, 2012. The summer sun beamed down on the crowds as they arrived in droves to enjoy another year’s sultry, boisterous day of fun. The voices of children were prominent as they enjoyed the many games offered this year, and the smells of rice and meat from the kabob vendors permeated the air.
The event was packed with attendees throughout the day, and organizers estimated an attendance of between 2,500 and 3,000 people.
Humaira Haq, a volunteer at Summerfest, filled in whenever and wherever necessary, selling food and making sure attendees were able to enjoy the activities. On the whole, she enjoyed Summerfest, and doesn’t regret her decision to volunteer there.
“Overall, the Summerfest was amazing, like every year,” she said. “There are many activities for kids and adults to engage in, and it’s not only for Muslims, everyone’s welcome.”
Tolu Alegbeleye, a non-Muslim visitor at Summerfest, wholeheartedly agreed, and had nothing but praise for this year’s Summerfest.
“I loved Summerfest,” she said, “It’s Islam-oriented of course but if you’re not a Muslim you’re still just as welcomed to attend. The atmosphere was very warm and friendly plus the games and activities were awesome. I had a wonderful experience that I hope to repeat in many years to come.”
Outside, the wide variety of games available kept children entertained. Choices included a 5-person rock wall, a wrecking ball ride, bumper cars, laser tag, an obstacle course, moon bounces, a pedestal joust, a bungee run, carnival games and horse rides. There were new additions as well: a gaming truck, along with the 18-person Wrecking Ball Ride. Participants from the recent Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST) performed at the mic, delivering their spoken word poems and nasheeds to the people eating in the shade. Food was provided by the ISB youth - who had sold drinks, samosas, and Jamaican beef patties - or was available from a variety of food vendors from around the area.
These elaborate accommodations required equally elaborate planning.
“We began planning in the beginning of May,” said Fatima Husain, an organizer of the Summerfest. “Immediate priorities included figuring out whether or not the regular barbecue was going to be done and if not, then food vendors would need to be organized, which they were in the end. Also, calling the bazaar vendors and making sure that the rides and entertainment would be bigger and better than ever.”
Sponsors were one of the organizers’ many responsibilities. “We called on sponsors who have sponsored us in the past and asked them to do the same again this year.” Husain explained. “Some of these sponsors included Helping Hand USA, The Muslim Link, Islamic Relief, Willoughby Beach Pediatrics, Floral Fruit Company and Pizza786, to name a few.”
Advertising also took a primary role in the success of Summerfest. Organizers and volunteers took to social media; the event was publicized on Facebook, and weekly ISB Flash emails were sent out to the community mailing list. Summerfest postcards were sent to other masajids as well.
A young shopper passes through the dozens of vending stalls selling clothing, jewelry, toys, and many other products and services at the Summerfest bazzar.
To escape from the suppressing heat outside, people could go to the bazaar, housed in the air-conditioned ISB gymnasium. “I was co-organizing the Bazaar with Khadeeja Alavi,” said Husain, “Khadeeja and I would call/email the vendors and try to get the best of the lot to come out and sell their goods at the festival so that the shoppers would be able to get all of their Eid shopping done in time.” There was a huge variety of merchandise available, from toys, abayas, and scarves to henna, scarf pins, and jewelry; interested customers crowded around each table.
“Anyone who wanted to set up a stall in the Bazaar needed to print and fill out the application form that was on the ISB website, or email it to the ISB office,” said Husain. “The fee for one standard table was $80 and super vendors paid $250. The merchandise could be anything as long as it was not food related. All food vendors were handled separately from the vendors in the Bazaar.”
Fatima Husain believes that this year’s event has been a success; she told us optimistically, “I think all of us organizers have a common goal: to make sure that everyone has a good time. I dothink that everyone who came left happy and on full stomachs. We can only pray that Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala blesses us with continuing success as the years progress, insha’Allah.”