I still haven’t caught up with sleep and chores from South by Southwest last week and now, here we are gearing up for another festival Texas VegFest! We just never stop celebrating in Austin Texas. I think it will be a little bit more chill than last week but a great time with all sorts of food and speakers to entertain and educate us. I am so excited that I caught up with my pal, board member and fellow blogger Molly of the Lonestar Plate to learn some details.
So Molly, can you tell me a little about your role in the festival this year?
This year, in addition to my role as a board member of Texas Veg Foundation (the group that organizes the festival), I’m in charge of social media. As a board member I have a really macro view of the festival, looking at the overall schedule, content, reach, advertising strategy, and so on. But I’m also the person tweeting at everyone to come volunteer. (Really, sign up to volunteer. It will be fun!)
What are some of the differences between this year’s festival and last one, (besides that I will get to go to this one?)
This one is bigger, in terms of expected attendees, number of vendors, and the kinds of activities we can provide. We have almost a hundred vendors, six bands, and a ton more kids’ activities (tennis! yoga! cooking demos!). This year’s festival is more local. Due to some logistical issues last year, many of Austin’s vegan and vegetarian restaurants and food carts couldn’t attend. This year just about all of our food vendors are small, local businesses. And of course, our Premier Sponsor is Wheatsville Co-op. I also think this year’s group of speakers is a bit more diverse, which was a big goal for us this year. The vegan demographic is white, female, and young-to-middle age. And that’s not because that’s what it takes to be vegan; it’s because we’re not doing a good enough job reaching out to other demographics.
So tell me about the speakers that I as a white, young-to-middle age female might not know about.
We have six fantastic speakers this year. Omowale Adewale is a champion vegetarian boxer from NYC. In his free time, he works with kids who might be struggling, both bullies and the bullied. He teaches them how to work through their emotions with boxing, exercise, and other healthy habits. His presentation will be really interactive.
Ayinde Howell is an actor, entrepreneur, and executive chef. He started his first restaurant, Hillside Quickies Vegan Sandwich Shop when he was only 20 years old. He blasted hip hop music and made food that *he* wanted to eat. And that turned out to be really successful. His sandwich shop became a gathering spot for artists and traveling musicians like Erykah Badu and Common. The shop eventually turned into a local group of restaurants (Plum Bistro et al.) that his sister now runs. He’ll be cooking comfort food, including Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Texas BBQ Rubbed Seitan, and Mini Sloppy Joes.
Dr. Baxter Montomgery is a cardiologist from Houston who works with chronically ill patients, showing them how to improve their health through a healthy diet. There are some big names in the healthy vegan community, but one of the people who has been working at this for more than ten years is right here in Texas.
Christy Morgan, The Blissful Chef, is an Austinite who trained in macrobiotic cooking at the Natural Epicurean. She’s made a reputation for herself cooking healthy food that doesn’t taste “healthy.” Christy has teamed up with PlantFusion to show us how to make healthy, protein-packed snacks that everyone will love.
Vegan superstar Isa Chandra Moskowitz (you might have heard of her!) was kind enough to come back for a second year. She’ll be making cashew-based cheesecake. And, yes, there will be samples!
And finally, we’re really excited to have Colleen Patrick-Goudreau come this year to give a presentation she calls “From Excuse-itarian to Vegan.” If you think you could be vegan, except for cheese! Or that it’s too expensive/hard/limiting to be vegan, Colleen will guide you through whatever’s keeping you back. She’s that wise, funny friend you wish you had.
Omowale Adewale is a boxer and his presentation is going to be interactive? Does that mean he is going to hit me?
Are you going to insult his mother?
I do make a lot of “your mom” jokes so I’m kind of worried. How do I force people to attend Colleen’s lecture?
Will there be tacos?
Arlo’s is serving tacos. And there will be also be nachos, donuts, funnel cake (from two vendors!), cannolis, and lots of ice cream.
Are there going to bands and other entertainment, like maybe interpretive dance? I’d love to express my rutabaga love.
We’ll have six bands:
What logistical info do I need to know, is there parking? Will I need cash? Can I bring my dogs? Are you annoyed that I’m not just looking at the FAQ section of your website?
There are a few parking lots near Fiesta Gardens and street parking to the west of the park. But everyone knows that biking, car pooling, and taking public transportation are way cooler than driving a car all by yourself, so we recommend people do that. In theory, you could even canoe up to the event, though I don’t think I know anyone *that* cool.
Bringing cash is a pretty good idea. A lot of our vendors will have Four Square or other ways to take credit cards out in the world now, but cash is a lot more dependable. You never know when you’ll need to buy a Vitamix or a shirt from Herbivore Clothing. (Psst. Someone buy me a Vitamix!) We will have an ATM though if you’re like me and can’t ever remember to carry cash.
Please leave your dogs at home. We love animals, but with all the crowds and food, it’s just not a dog-friendly environment. To be clear: dogs will not be admitted into the park.
Canoeing to the event sure sounds like a challenge…hmm. OK, last question, what do you think people will be most to eat and do at the fest? Predictions?
I think funnel cake will be popular, because, well, it’s funnel cake. Unity Vegan Kitchen will be busy since this is their first appearance. They’re a new Austin food truck that serves comfort food. And everybody loves something new. Good Karma Kitchen should be popular, too, since they’re from out of town and serve gluten-free food. I’m hoping the Atkinson candy booth will draw a crowd, mostly because I love Chick-O-Stick, and they make it. And it’ll be a crying shame if there’s not a swarm of families at the kids’ area because there are some really great kids’ activities this year. (Don’t worry, Lazy Smurf, you can easily avoid that area.)
Ouch! I like kids, my street is full of them happily screaming their lungs out 24 hours a day.
Thanks for answering my questions Molly!