The 3rd Annual Charlotte VegFest Has Arrived! Come on Down!

Commonwealth Ave.
Between Pecan St. and The Plaza
Charlotte, NC
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Charlotte VegFest
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by Danielle Bussone

 

Charlotte VegFest 1

 

 

Go Vegan And No Body Gets Hurt!

Go Vegan And No Body Gets Hurt!

 

The 3rd Annual Charlotte VegFest is an event not to be missed! Just on the horizon, it takes place next Saturday, May 17, from 2-7pm at Plaza Midwood. The festival celebrates vegans and vegetarians of all categories — people who just want to eat healthier, those who wish to create a sustainable environment for their children, those who love and protect the rights of animals, and everywhere in between. Those non-vegetarians who just want to see what all the fuss is about are welcome as well. There is something for everyone at the Charlotte VegFest.

Charlotte VegFest Pet Friendly Environment

Charlotte VegFest Pet Friendly Environment

 

Charlotte VegFest is an occasion to celebrate the benefits of healthy, sustainable and compassionate lifestyles. It will feature vegan desserts, local vegetarian/vegan restaurants and food trucks, local vendors, speakers, raffle with prizes, gift bags and more. Our hope is that Charlotte VegFest will bring together the various plant-based lifestyle groups at one event, to show people how easy it is to go vegan.

 

Gene Bauer, Fiona and Marley

Gene Bauer, Fiona Humpfrey and Marley Claridge

 

The Charlotte VegFest is the brain child of Marley Claridge and Fiona Humpfrey, owners of Ecolicious, a vegan boutique market located on Commonwealth Ave. One day they were shooting the breeze with one of their vendors and found themselves fantasizing about what wonderful things they could accomplish in their community if they put their minds to it. Other big cities have vegetarian festivals, why not Charlotte? The spark of an idea was fanned into a flame and the Charlotte VegFest burst forth, a Phoenix from the embers of their collective musings.

 

Charlotte VegFest

 

“It started very small, in the parking lot behind our business,” says Marley. “We had no idea how many people would come. There had been some construction going on and there was essentially a moat around our lot. We had 17 or 18 vendors that first year, who did very well. The food vendors sold out of food. About 600 people showed up. The next year we blocked off the road and we had 1500 visitors!”

 

Charlotte VegFest

 

Neither Marley nor Fiona had any idea how to put on a festival. They spoke with Joe Yanicak, Charlotte’s Festivals and Arena Events Permit Official. He helped the with permits and directed them to other people they needed to talk to to make this festival a reality. ”He was so helpful and so nice,” remembers Marley. “We just followed the steps, one at a time, and before we knew it we had a festival!”

 

Andrea Gunn- Director Humane League, Charlotte, NC

Andrea Gunn- Director Humane League, Charlotte, NC

 

Volunteer organizations, such as the Humane League, came forward and the second year, local animal rights activist, Curt Albright became involved. He was able to get Farm Sanctuary Co-Founder, Gene Baur to speak at the festival. Race car celebrity and environmental activist, Leilani Münter contacted Marley directly and offered to speak as well. She was excited that something was going on locally in the vegan movement. Marley sent out emails to their vendors and contacted other people she thought may be interested.

 

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While it has definitely been a learning process for Marley and Fiona, so far they haven’t made any big mistakes. They’ve learned what they can handle and what the individual vendors should do for themselves. With growing successes, they gain more confidence. They are reaching out to more food vendors.  Contributions from larger, national companies is now on their radar. Who knows what next year’s festival will inspire!

 

Charlotte VegFest

 

This year, Gene Baur and Leilani Münter will be featured speakers once again. New to this year’s festival is vegetarian food celebrity, Dilip Barman, who will be favoring Charlotte with one of his famous cooking demonstrations. Howard Jacobson, Ph.D., contributing author to Whole, the follow up book to bestselling The China Study, will be speaking as well.

 

Charlotte VegFest Speakers

Charlotte VegFest Speakers

 

Local vendors will be offering food, drinks, beauty and bath products and more! If the 3rd Annual Charlotte VegFest is anything like last year’s, there will be loads of activites, free samplings of earth friendly products and plenty of food for thought, as well as for your hungry bellies. This is a pet friendly event, so bring your critters. You’ll no doubt see Veggin’ Out and About! in the crowd with Phoenix and Coal dragging us in tow. Say hello if you see us, bring some sunscreen and have a great time!

 

 

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.

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