Richmond Vegetarian Festival, June 15, 2013 was a blast!

Bryan Park
Richmond VA
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Richmond Vegetarian Festival was all a vegetarian festival should be. Rich and I drove the 300 miles from Abingdon, VA with our monster, Phoenix, happily settled in the back of our Subaru Forester. We stopped en-route in Charlottesville, VA and reviewed a marvelous Afghani restaurant called Ariana Grill Kabob House (see post). We sat outside and enjoyed our meal while Phoenix basked in the attention of passersby, her favorite activity.  After checking into our clean, dog-friendly hotel, (Candlewood Suites near the airport) that evening, we visited India K’Raja, renown as Richmond’s best Indian restaurant since 1995, and for good reason (see post).

On the day of the festival, which  took place in the verdant Azalea Gardens at Bryan Park, we arrived just before noon, which is when it was scheduled to begin. The gods were smiling on us as the weather could not have been more perfect with lots of sun, shade trees and a cool breeze. The event was free  of charge and parking was plentiful. Even the parking lot was lovely. We were immediately greeted by animal rescue groups which had plenty of trained and health-certified adoption ready animals to take home. They had children’s bathing pools of ice for animals to help themselves to a cool drink at this pet friendly event. Towards the end of the event we saw a Labrador climb in and make use of this pool’s original purpose! We had to walk past these groups quickly and with resolve as we already have our maximum limit of monsters (the collective name for our beloved animals) in our home. 

We caught sight of a vegan ice cream vendor, DeLuca Gelato, who served the most delicious ice cream ever. I had chocolate and Rich had the mixed berry. We bought a small size as we knew we would be chowing down on the myriad food choices later on. We made our way to the speaker’s tent and listened to Wale, a champion boxer who is also vegan, talk about health, fitness and a vegan diet. He was a dynamic speaker as well as a patient father. His little boy scraped his knee and Wale had to hold his weepy son through much of his presentation.Wale

Wale didn’t miss a beat, however, and his presentation was made even more engaging as we watched a loving father soothing his son and supervising his young daughter while teaching us about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise. It was a perfect example of juggling the demands of parenting with those of professional endeavors. He got a number of participants to lie down on the grass and do crunches with him. Later, I did tricep exercises with Wale using a chair as a bench. We hope to do a full interview of Wale in the near future.

Next was a food demo by The Washington Post’s Food and Travel editor and cookbook author, Joe Yonan. He taught us how to create a delicious vegetarian main course in fifteen minutes or less. He created a dish called Fusilli with Corn Sauce which will be featured in his new cookbook, “Eat Your Vegetables,” due to be released August 4, 2013 by Ten Speed Press.

Joe Yonan Teaching Us How To Cook Fusilli With Corn Sauce in 15 Minutes

Joe Yonan Teaching Us How To Cook Fusilli With Corn Sauce in 15 Minutes

It is made with fresh sautéed onions, organic corn and basil chiffonade and is made creamy by using the milk from the corn and a little pasta water. Then just toss it with freshly cooked Fusilli pasta (an Italian spiral pasta), bow-ties or whatever short pasta you have on hand. It had such a fresh and delicious flavor with the addition of basil lending another layer of complexity which completes the dish. Joe generously allowed us to video his cooking demo for the enjoyment of our readers. (see post) He also spared a few minutes of his time to speak with me about his new book, “Eat Your Vegetables.” Check back as this interview will be posted soon!

We missed out on several speakers and the Food Fight competition judged by Joe Yonan. It was time to get down to the business of eating the FOOD!

We sampled many dishes and many varieties of cuisine. Phoenix’s Garden Vegetarian Restaurant was represented as well as Indian K’Raja. We tried the vegan hamburger truck, Carytown Burgers and Fries, and I have to say it more closely mimicked a real hamburger than any other restaurant I’ve tried. The burger is soy based and is a great transitioning food for new vegetarians or vegans. We sampled Thai food from Ginger Taste of Thai (sorry, website under construction) and spring rolls from Top Ten Thai, vegetarian pizza from Grate-Gourmet Fusion Pizza For Your Mouf  and finished the day with a large serving of vegan ice cream, this time watermelon and strawberry. It was all fantastic!  There were so many vendors and such a variety of food there way no way we could try it all. Much of it was healthy, others offered sinfully decadent comfort food.

Phoenix had a grand time, often finding herself being put into head-locks by little girls passing by. She loved the attention!

Phoenix In Choke-Hold!

Phoenix In Choke-Hold!

The festival offered numerous supplement and health food vendors, information tents from animal rights groups, animal adoption groups,  environmental groups, vegetarian and vegan groups and just about everything imaginable for whatever philosophy has driven one to embrace or consider a vegetarian lifestyle. We even made acquaintances with Parker the Pig!

Richmond Vegetarian Festival is to date the largest and most vibrant festival we’ve attended. There were literally thousands of enthusiastic attendees, our best information has it at around 12,000 visitors. It has definitely made it to the top of our annual Must Do events. We hope to see ya’ll there next year. If it is anything like this year’s event, you will have a blast!

Links:  Ariana Grill Kabob House – Candlewood Suites – India K’Raja – DeLuca Gelato – Wale, – The Washington Post’s Food and Travel –  Eat Your Vegetables – Phoenix’s Garden Vegetarian Restaurant – Carytown Burgers and Fries – Top Ten Thai – Grate-Gourmet Fusion Pizza For Your Mouf

 

Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She is currently writing a cookbook for vegans called, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health.”

Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle  directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

8 Comments

  1. Hello!
    It’s that time of year already – the Richmond Vegetarian Festival will be held on June 21, 2014 in Bryan Park, same location as last year. We’re anticipating over 30 food vendors, lots of non-profit organizations, of which Pig Placement Network has had the most pre-festival thumbs-up.
    We will also have our annual “Food Fight!” and will have another dynamite cooking demo by Joe Yonan, and a talk by Gene Baur of the Farm Sanctuary. We have 5 bands lined up, our favorite juggler and magician, Jonathan Austin, and lots of fun for the whole family. (Leashed, vaccinated, well-behaved dogs are welcome to attend with their families. In fact, we have several vendors who will have samples for them to try: V-dog and Bare Bones Bakeries.)
    We hope you can come and enjoy the Richmond Vegetarian Festival 2014!

  2. Hello. Along with Leslie, I am one of the coordinators of Richmond Vegetarian Festival, and I just wanted to say thank you so very much for the glowing review of our event. I could not have given it a kinder review myself. It is so fulfilling when our hard work is recognized by the folks attending our event and it helps to keep us going from year to year. 🙂

    • Danielle

      Hi, Christopher!

      I regret I didn’t get a chance to connect with the organizers of Richmond Vegetarian Festival when we were there. If you can email me at danielle@daniellebussone.com I’d like to talk about setting up an interview of your organizers. I think our readers might gain some insights about how to organize a festival in their area.

  3. Danielle

    12,000! Wow! I’ll have to make that correction. You guys did a terrific job putting this together. You can be sure the Veggin’ Out and About team will be there to share it with our readers. Congratulations on such a successful event!

  4. Thanks for the terrific review! I’m glad you enjoyed the product of our work (basically, 5-6 volunteers plan the festival, and bring in about 75 volunteers the day of the festival)!
    It is wonderful to read such a glowing review – and you unerringly made for some of the best food vendors!
    This is our 11th year of putting on the Richmond Vegetarian Festival, along with our families and friends, and we thank you and will welcome you back in 2014!
    P.S. We heard from the head of the park next day that we had 12,000 people attend!!

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