Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Q&A: Mayfest co-chairs reflect on year of preparation, look toward Dillo Day

Photo Courtesy of Alexandra Kahn
Kahn and Daneshmand spend the year leading Mayfest Productions’ 10 committees, preparing for Dillo Day and acting as liaisons between the organization and NU administration.

Mayfest Productions has been putting together Dillo Day, the largest student-run music festival in the country, for over 50 years. After a year of preparation, the planning for Dillo 52 is in its final stretch as Saturday’s festival nears. The Daily sat down with Mayfest’s co-chairs, first-year engineering design innovation graduate student Darya Daneshmand and Weinberg junior Alexandra Kahn, to hear more about the group’s processes and goals.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for brevity and clarity.

The Daily: Walk me through Mayfest’s process over the course of the year leading up to Dillo Day.

Daneshmand: In the summer, we do onboarding, exec recruitment and goal setting for the year. Fall Quarter is fairly slow, but one big thing that does happen is recruitment, and that went really well this year. Committees just get prepped, and their new members get acclimated. They go into Winter Quarter, and things really just hit the ground at that point.

Across our 10 committees, they all start working on all kinds of projects to get us all set up for Dillo. And then spring is just absolute organized chaos, especially in these last few weeks. Our job is really just to support the committees as best we can and make sure that our goals are in the right places so that we can continue to make this experience better for the student body.

Kahn: For the booking process, we do start looking at stuff over the summer. The beginning of spring is when we end up being done. We always try to aim for earlier, but it’s a lot of trial and error. Sometimes you send for people, and because of scheduling conflicts, it doesn’t work out. So usually we have a bunch of mock lineups that we do. It’s a big puzzle that we put together, and we’re taking from different areas until we find the right pieces that fall into place.

The Daily: What were some of your goals for Dillo Day 2024?

Daneshmand: We wanted to make sure that this year there were more ways of getting out really essential information, such as wristbands and trying to get people to come early and know more about what is to be expected on the day of so that everyone’s prepared to have a really safe, positive experience.

We also wanted to continue to expand our Student Intervention Service team which is within our operations team and started last year to really focus on safety and overseeing everything going on on the Lakefill. They get trained in things like de-escalation, and it was a really positive experience, and we got a lot of great feedback on it.

Internally, we just wanted to make the craziness in the spring easier and smoother for people, and that just comes down to being organized about how things are getting done.

Kahn: Another big goal going into the year was something that has been talked about for a really long time: implementing metal detection, which is kind of industry standard in music festivals across the country. And so all year we’ve been really working to implement that, and we’re really excited that we’re going to have wand-ing at the entrance this year. It’s going to be a new experience for everyone, so we’re really trying to make sure that people know what’s going to happen and know what to expect.

The Daily: What else is new to the festival this year?

Daneshmand: We ran our own merch this year, and that was something really exciting. That money that we make off of that merch can actually come back into supporting Dillo and making the experience better for people.

Kahn: The other thing is this year, we’re actually going to have a big entranceway to the festival, which we were able to collaborate with a couple sponsors for. It’s going to feel like you’re really going into a real live music festival, and it’s going to have photo ops on it and stuff. We have some really great sponsors this year, like NYX, the makeup brand. We love to work with local Evanston businesses, and that’s always a priority for us, but we also want to have those high-level brands present to have that good mix.

The Daily: What advice would you give to students for the festival this year?

Kahn: It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I think it’s important that people have fun, but also make sure that you are in a state where you can still experience the festival.

Also, go to sets where you don’t know who the artists are. I’ve had a lot of people I’ve talked to from past Dillos where they actually find one of their new favorite artists from people that we bring to Dillo. We’ve been on the forefront of getting artists right before they blow up. The EDM sets are usually in the beginning of the day, but they’re honestly some of the most fun because it’s basically like being in a club but on the Lakefill.

Daneshmand: People should go see a set on second stage. (For Members Only) really killed it on the lineup this year. It’s so worth getting to actually see artists at both stages. It’s how you get the best experience at Dillo.

The Daily: What are your hopes for future Dillo Days?

Daneshmand: We’re really trying to figure out a way to make it easier for the booking committee to book artists even earlier because we know how much pressure it would take off of them.

Kahn: Every year, we want to level up the festival and get it closer and closer to Lollapalooza. It’s also my dream to have a female headliner. That’s something I would love to see.

Email: [email protected]
X: @marywrandolph

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