Compassionate Times: Fall, 2013

Dear friends of animals,

Did you attend Twin Cities Veg Fest 2013? It was an amazing day for Compassionate Action for Animals. Months of hard work culminated in a fun, festive day filled with great food, speakers, and music.

As the Committee Chair for the festival planning committee, I’d been looking forward to that day for many months. Planning for the festival started almost almost one year before the day of the event! We had a great team of volunteers this year, and they worked tirelessly for many months in order to make the event a success. It’s amazing how many moving parts have to come together for an event like this. At our first meeting in November of 2012, we were already brainstorming speakers to invite, planning our media outreach, and starting to plan our sponsor recruitment.

The day of the event was both exhausting and exhilirating. Right before the event, I looked out to see if there was line. There was, and it seemed to be even longer than last year’s! It’s great that some people were enthusiastic enough to queue up to be first in the doors.

Just like last year, there was an initial rush of people when we first opened the doors. It was a real thrill to see that first surge of people come through the door. Of course, that first surge doesn’t tell you how many people will come throughout the day. I was nervous because you never know how things will work out before the event happens. Did people see our advertising? Did they have something better to do that day? Would the UMN football game put people off from coming?

Last year, we had a good line at the beginning and then a fairly steady stream of people for the first few hours, but there was never any big rush of people. This year was quite different. I remember watching the growing number of people coming through the doors in astonishment (and a bit of fear). This strong flow of attendees didn’t seem to abate until 1pm or so.

We’ve prepared 1,000 swag bags for both years of the festival. This is a good way for us to count the first batch of attendees. Last year, our bags lasted until at mid-afternoon, around 2:30pm or so. This year, we ran out of bags at 12:45pm! This was an exciting milestone for us, and when that happened we knew we were well on track to beat last year’s attendance number of 1,200.

I was too busy to thoroughly tour the festival myself, but I did get a chance to try much of the food. I’d been up since 6:30am or so, so I was quite hungry when the festival started. I ran over to Seward Cafe and grabbed a delicious muffin and piece of banana bread to share with the other folks at the festival table. I hope you had a chance to try some of their baked goods. If you didn’t try them at the festival then check out their cafe on Franklin Ave. They always have a great selection of vegan dishes and desserts.

Later I shared a delicious waffle from Kitty Corner Cafe with my wife. It was covered with chocolate ganache, fruit, and nuts, and was completely decadent. With dessert out of the way, we then went on to share a platter of food from Asase Yaa. I also helped myself to a number of delicious samples. One of my favorites was the vegan caramels from Comfort Candy. I’m a sucker for vegan sweets!

Talking to the exhibitors at the event confirmed what we saw in terms of attendance. Those exhibitors who’d been there last year told me that they’d given away and sold significantly more of their products than the year before. By the end of the day, many of them had sold out!

An attendee checks out Seward Cafe's baked goodsAn event like Twin Cities Veg Fest can help animals in so many ways. First and foremost, the delicious food breaks down the misconception that vegan food requires great sacrifice. Vegan food is just as tasty and satifsying as animal products. Our speakers and exhibitors educate attendees about animal issues, how to follow a healthy vegan diet, and give them resources for changing their lives. And of course, the event highlights the vibrant, welcoming, and fun animal-friendly community in the Twin Cities

Reading our survey feedback was one of the most satisfying parts of the whole event for me. Over one third of our attendees were omnivores, which was exactly what I wanted to hear. It’s people who are still eating animal products that we need to reach. Almost every single person surveyed (98%) said they’d come back next year. One of my favorite comments was someone who said that “We never realised that vegan food could be so delicious.” It sure is!

We’re already starting to plan next year’s event. Just recently, I took a look at a potential new venue for the 2014 festival. With around 2,000 people coming this year, it’s time to find a venue that can hold 2,500 or 3,000 people comfortably!

Thank you again for your support of Compassionate Action for Animals. It’s only with your your help that we can continue to put on powerful events like Twin Cities Veg Fest.

Sincerely,

Dave Rolsky
Twin Cities Veg Fest Committee Chair
Dave Rolsky

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