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Special events students learn what it takes to organize music festival

Months of planning and a week of setup goes into successful show


Student listen as Heather Rogers describes M3F music festival preparations.

Heather Rogers tells PRM 145 students about preparations for the M3F music festival at Margaret T. Hance Park. Photo by Amber Victoria Singer/ASU

March 24, 2022

Taking a music festival from the planning stage to the concert stage doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes at least 365 nights – and days.

Arizona State University students enrolled in PRM 145, Introduction to Special Event Management, were invited to Margaret T. Hance Park for a behind-the-scenes look at the M3F Music Festival two days before it was held in early March.

Heather Rogers, festival event planner, led the students through the park. Vendors, sponsors and stages were still being set up for the event.

“I am surprised by how much preparation it takes to organize an event,” said Cade Lasley, a junior studying parks and recreation. “(Heather) mentioned it takes a year to plan, one week to set up and two days to take down.”

Along with talking about the set-up process, Rogers told the students how event volunteers tackle safety, food and beverage, entertainment and more.

“The best part of my job is seeing everyone work together,” she said. “It’s great to see our staff pitch in and follow the mission, which is all about the customer experience.”

Rogers also explained the nonprofit side of the festival.

Since 2004, M3F, formerly known as McDowell Mountain Music Festival, has donated 100% of its proceeds to charity, including the Phoenix Children’s hospital, Habitat for Humanity and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Nonprofits can request to receive a portion of the proceeds, and then are asked to report back on how the donation made an impact in the community.

M3F has raised over $3.2 million since its inception, according to the festival’s website.

Because the festival is a nonprofit, it relies on volunteers and unpaid interns to pull everything together.

Parker Kross, the festival’s community outreach intern, is pursuing a certificate in special event management at ASU.

“I go to festivals and music events all the time,” he said. “It’s been so interesting to see what it’s like on the other side.”

Clinical Assistant Professor Erin Schneiderman of the School of Community Resources and Development knows how important it is for students to see what goes into planning an event with their own eyes.

“Students can truly transfer knowledge from textbooks into a real-world application,” she said. “There is a great chance to ask questions directly to organizers and fully understand how an event is designed from the ground up.”

Written by Amber Victoria Singer, student journalist, School of Community Resources and Development.

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