Tuesday, August 10, 2010

VeggieFest Chicago 2010

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly, VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland, VN Trade Show Manager Lyndsay Orwig
What: Largest free vegetarian food festival in the US
Where: Naperville, Ill.
When: August 7–8, 2010
Why: Beware Boston. Move over Toronto. There's a new festival on the block.

The Scoop: A century after Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
immortalized the stockyards of Chicago, in an affluent suburb 30 miles to the west and in the shadow of McDonald’s Hamburger University, a small vegetarian festival began in 2005, attended by a few thousand believers. Science of Spirituality, a non-profit multi-faith organization that adheres to a vegetarian diet, started VeggieFest Chicago as a way of promoting its meat-free lifestyle to the community, one tenet of the international organization’s mission. Fast-forward five years. If you are unsure that the veg lifestyle has caught fire, or doubt that the beginning of critical mass for vegetarianism is upon us, you weren’t in Naperville, Ill., this past weekend.

Dozens of inspirational quotations lined the grounds at VeggieFest

VeggieFest is a free, two-day, outdoor festival that hits all the right notes. There's the rhythmic music that plays all day; the ample food court with delicious, moderately priced multi-ethic cuisine; the nearly 100 educators and exhibitors ranging from Mercy for Animals and Conscious Planet Media to Clif Bar, Sequel Naturals, and The Book Publishing Company; children's activities all day long; and the lectures and cooking demos which this year included Sarah Taylor, author of Vegan in 30 Days (* see below to win a signed copy) as well as two keynotes from Sant Rajinder Singh, founder of the Science of Spirituality.

Everyone loved VegNews!

Under mostly hot and sunny skies more than 20,000 people from as far Seattle to Boston, Quebec to Florida, strolled through the always crowded fairgrounds, soaking up food and info as fast as it could be served. VegNews even imported the crackerjack sales team of Randy and Bev Orwig (Lyndsay's parents) from St. Louis to assist us on Saturday, when we sold a record number of subscriptions in a single day.

Author Sarah Taylor flanked by Randy and Bev Orwig, subscription-selling superstars

VeggieFest Chicago is reaching a new audience through a successful combination of open outreach, enjoyable entertainment, a welcoming attitude, and a wonderfully supportive vibe. Hundreds of volunteers pitched in for months before the event, and then for two very long days, to pull off a festival that needs to be on every vegetarian's map.

Proud vegan attendee Nicole Hughes with event organizer Jay Mooney

* Press Pass Bonus: Leave a comment telling us about your favorite veg festival. We'll pick one winner this Friday, August 13 and send you a signed copy of Vegan in 30 Days.


SugarBear said...

My favorite veg festival was the short lived Bay Area Veg Fair organized by none other than the fine folks at VegNews. RIP.

Caitlin said...

My favorite is Christmas without Cruelty in London. I attended just after moving to London, and it was the first veg festival I'd been to...it may not be as big as some of the other ones, but I was in awe. I couldn't believe I was surrounded by stalls full of vegan shoes, cakes, mock meats and faux cheese! And to top it off, I met some really great people there who are some of my closest friends two years later.

Sarah said...

my favorite is the boston veg fest. it's well organized and very laid-back, which is exactly how i like things. also, it's pretty much heaven to be somewhere filled with all sorts of vegan goodness everywhere i look!

Dave Sennerud said...

Chicago is the only major veg festival I have been to (three times), so I guess it would have to be my favorite! What I like best is how welcoming it is to non-veg people who are there to check things out. I'm sure there were some converts. Although I don't have children, the kids tent gave them some great fun and educational activities. There were a great variety of sessions, the music was great, and - of course - the food was fabulous.

Mary P said...

As one of the organizers of Veggie Fest, I appreciate your comments and the wonderful article and support from VegNews. We work hard to try to present vegetarianism to the general public in a fun and non-threatening way. It is indeed of growing interest as the first year we had 1700 in attendance and in this our fifth year, we had 22,000!

Christine said...

I thought the Veggie Fest was absolutely wonderful this past weekend. Great diversity of food, presentations and vendors! My favorite festival!

mgonyeo said...

I like the Boston Veg Fest!

Anonymous said...

Two seasons, two favorites : Naperville's Veggie Fest in summer and Chicago's Vegan Mania in autumn.

Shaynie said...

Hey, that's my two favorites also : summer Veggie Fest in Naperville and autumn Vegan Mania in Chicago. Veg*n awareness is busting out all over!

Crystal said...

I have never been to a veg fest. I don't think Cleveland has one but i would love to travel someday:)

cyclona66(at) aol dot com

Stefanie said...

I don't have any Veg festivals in my hometown, so by far Chicago Veggiefest is the best!

ASK said...

I've never been to a veg fest... they sound great!

VegNews Magazine said...

Congrats, Christine! You've been selected as the winner of our giveaway. Please email giveaway@vegnews.com with your full name and mailing address, and we'll send your copy of Vegan in 30 Days right out!