Volunteer Shout-Out: 2019 Festival Planning Committee – Part 1

Dedication, creative vision, and passion. The Twin Cities Veg Fest planning committee is short on none, and it shows—our festival has grown to be the largest Veg Fest in the Midwest, attracting over 9,000 attendees in 2018.

As the festival has grown in size, so has the committee! Over 20 people are working on this year’s festival to make sure that every detail is taken care of.

Some members are serving on the committee for the first time, while others have returned to help make this year’s festival the biggest and best yet and they can’t wait for you to experience it. This week, meet part of the team behind this year’s festival.

Suzy Sorensen

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

Coordinating speakers to get new info out to attendees! Hope to inform and motivate those at Twin Cities Veg Fest. 

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?

I was on the planning committee for the precursor, Their Lives Our Voices (TLOV) conference, not sure how many years ago! But have continued to be part of the event in some capacity ever since. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year?

I love the great positive energy! So many kind-hearted, open-minded folks in one place. That’s been a constant! 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I met a lobster and it changed my life. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to? 

Keeping up with my business, Move2Veg Nutrition. But also puppy sitting, reading, traveling, enjoying the garden and its wildlife! 

Mitch Thompson

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I am this year’s assistant chair. There was a lot learned from last year’s successful move to Harriet Island. With a better understanding going in this year of the space, we will have an even better festival in 2019.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?

I volunteered early on and things just grew from there. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival?

Just seeing it come together and the constant flood of people makes all the work worth it. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

My wife. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to? 

I am very busy these days, first working in the film/tv industry. I serve on several boards, including Compassionate Action for Animals (which puts on Twin Cities Veg Fest). The other boards are the HumanistsMN, and DEMO (Diverse Emerging Music Organization). I also play drums in a band called Umbrella Bed that I also help manage.

James Peña

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

As Volunteer Co-Coordinator, I am responsible for recruiting, training, and organizing volunteers working at this year’s festival.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?

I attended Twin Cities Veg Fest for the first time in 2017 and decided to become a volunteer in 2018.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year?

My favorite part of the festival is that it builds community among like-minded people and raises awareness of the vegan movement.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I am thankful for the recent surge of plant milks and other specialty foods that have helped me make the switch after being vegetarian for a decade.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to? 

My interests include leftist politics (I highly recommend the Vegan Vanguard podcast), working out, and taking naps. 

Shannon Lasnetske

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

My role in the committee is as Volunteer Co-Coordinator, so James and I have been setting up the website for volunteers so that they can easily sign-up there to volunteer with us. We will also be organizing volunteers when we get closer to the event and working with them on the day of the festival.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?

This is my first year being involved with the Twin Cities Veg Fest! Last year I attended the festival for the first time and I loved it so much. This time I’m so excited to actually be a part of it. I got involved through Laura, who I had met through events with CAA on the University of Minnesota campus.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year?

I haven’t helped out with organizing the event before, but my favorite part of the Twin Cities Veg Fest is, of course, all the food! I think that this year there will be even more people then there have been in the years before, which is really exciting. It’s always great to see so many vegans and vegan vendors, so I’m pretty excited to see how it turns out this year.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

When I was 17 I read a book called “Skinny Bitch” and it ended up being all about veganism, which I had never really heard about before. I ended up doing my own research and felt that I had no choice but to adopt a vegan lifestyle after everything I learned. Going vegan was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to? 

I’m studying! I study chemistry, French, and Arabic at the University of Minnesota. This summer I’m taking classes as well as working as a medical scribe and volunteering in the hospital whenever I can. I love going to the lake and spending time with my friends, but most of my time this summer has been spent in the library for sure!

Sam Barba

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I am Music Coordinator for Twin Cities Veg Fest 2019. My main focus is greatly increasing the focus of the music aspect of the festival, growing the volume of attendees, making sure everything on the main stage runs smoothly, booking acts, and creating an incredible event out of the After Party!

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?

2019 would be my first year! I reached out to Laura, Nathan, and Mitch, desiring to bring my expertise to the table, and help grow the music aspect of the festival. I’ve worked in music fest production for five years, and want to start marrying that community with the vegan community. My hope is to introduce more people to the vegan community, open their minds to a new lifestyle, and create lifelong vegans and activists.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year?

I have not helped with this event in past years, but I am incredibly excited to announce that the music will be growing dramatically from 2018. Most people I talk to didn’t even realize there was music last year. It was a small tent stage, with a 4 track mixer. This year, we will be renting out the Target Stage and making the live performances a much stronger focal point of the fest.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

When I was 16 years old, a woman gave me a PETA2 DVD at Vans Warped Tour. I had no idea what it was, watched it when I got home, fell down a nearly 4-hour rabbit hole of a documentary, and the rest is history.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to? 

For my day job, I am an Executive Account Manager for an amazing company, called Modern Coin Mart. We are the #1 source in the world for Scarce and Rare Collectable Coins.

My side hustle and passions include a production team I partner in, Romerdome Familia, doing music festivals throughout the summer, and homegrown events through the winter. This winter, we will be airing live on local television! I also play in two bands, Sammy Strings & The Can of Bliss, and The Bad Shine.

Lastly, I spend all of the rest of my time, loving my companion animals, protesting and volunteering for animal advocacy, am a Board Member for Rooster Redemption Animal Sanctuary, and of course, enjoy spending time with my lovely girlfriend, Ashley Riddle; of which I am so proud! She is the Program Director for Animal Rights Coalition and works so hard for animal advocacy.

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Twin Cities Veg Fest is our biggest event of the year, and we need lots of enthusiastic volunteers to help make it a success. Sign up here to be a volunteer and help make this awesome vegan Minnesota get together happen!

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Friday, September 20, 2019 - Sunday, October 20, 2019

Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge 2019

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Twin Cities Veg Fest Data Entry Party!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Video Outreach

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Introduction to Plant-Based Eating

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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