It’s that time of year again when thousands of Muslims descend upon my backyard for a weekend of Muslim-styled carnival fun. Like every year at Muslimfest we saw bouncy castles, movies, art exhibits, comedy shows, music, a gargantuan amount of food, and this:

Yay for this double-duty father so mum can learn about breast health.

I was a little disappointed with this year’s vendor display — it seemed smaller somehow. More food and less stuff. But that didn’t discourage people from enjoying the day and spending tones of money on Islamic inspired gadgets, toys and clothes. Apparently 25,000 people attended.

One side of the bazaar.

There was also an amazing amount of support from volunteers. Young adults worked so hard trying to keep children entertained with talent shows, drum circles, hair styling lessons and face painting.

Eyrn’s first paint job. A butterfly on her cheek that eventually smeared over her entire face and onto Ivy. Who knew.

It was also an absolute joy to check out Mezba’s fantastic LEGO dioramas — and to meet the man in person! I’m really glad he was able to showcase his work — so many kids loved it and I’m sure he’s inspired a new generation of imaginative builders!

From Moses’ birth story: Pharaoh’s wife chooses Moses’ own mother to be his wet nurse.

And no festival is complete without a run in the splashpark.

“Water, water everywhere…”

But there was one thing that turned me off at this year’s Muslimfest. The absolute absence of female artists and workshop facilitators. You wouldn’t know it from the event website, which lists artists from all of their previous years. And includes two women. In nine years, only two female artists??

Women were on stage though. Women read English Qur’anic translations and made announcements (yeah… wow).

There were however, a few female spoken word artists scheduled during an afternoon “Rising Talent” competition. Which in my mind is a lost opportunity — one that’s endemic in our community. Muslim organizers just seem to love scheduling female speakers and artists during inopportune times. So even though there was some fabulous poetry — lots of people missed it because only about 50 people cared to watch performers at 3pm. And emcees had to beg the audience for cheers and appreciation.

But thousands of people come out for the big-name, male performers at night. So instead of scheduling our female artists during low-peak audience times, why not really support our “rising talents” and schedule them as a warm up to the main event, so that they may one day become big-name performers themselves. Now THAT would impress me.

So since my sisters didn’t get much air time, here’s a short spoken word presentation on the importance of praying on time. Indeed, give it up for Anissa Mustapha: