Volunteer Shout-Out: 2019 Festival Planning Committee – Part 2

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.

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.

Sal Kravik

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I’m the Twitter coordinatorMy goal is to create more excitement for the festival through updates and engagement/interaction with prospective attendees, sponsors, vendors, and exhibitors out there in the Twitterverse.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

After attending my first Twin Cities Veg Fest in 2012, I knew I wanted to get involved somehow. Unny must have sensed that because he recruited me while attending a mutual friend’s dinner party and I joined the planning committee in 2013.

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 seeing the festival attendance grow every yearespecially now that we have more space to accommodate everyone. Speaking of accommodating, I also love that the festival is more inclusive and accessible than ever.

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

Motherhood and feminism! Seventeen years ago I was lovingly growing a little human inside my own body when I learned of the immense suffering of dairy cows. I couldn’t imagine the horror of having my own baby taken away from me moments after he was born, never to be seen again, and then being hooked up to a milking machine indefinitely like female cows in the dairy industry are. Mother cows cry for their babies and the babies cry for their mothers, just like humans. I knew I could never be okay with supporting that kind of cruelty, no matter the species, so I removed animal products from my diet the day my son was born.

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

I love to travel! Traveling means I get to try new restaurants, co-ops, markets, recipes, and flavors. I am also very focused on staying healthy, which includes getting outside to do a lot of biking and hiking while the weather is warm. 

Nathan Gaut

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I am the committee chair for this year’s Twin Cities Veg Fest. I help coordinate the other committee members and run the meetings. 

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I have been involved with the festival for the past few years. I started off as Exhibitor Coordinator in 2017 and have been chair for the 2018 and 2019 festivals. My involvement started off as an attempt to get more involved in the vegan activist scene after moving to the Twin Cities.

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 just looking out over the sea of people mid-day. It is still incredible to me that over 9000 people have an interest in plant-based food and took time out of their day to celebrate, eat vegan food, and learn more! This year, we’re really upping our game with the music aspect of Twin Cities Veg Fest. We have some amazing bands lined up. And all the music is going to be set on a much bigger stage and have a much larger presence. We even have some bigger names featured at our first ever outdoor after party!

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

I’ve been vegetarian almost my whole life. And for that I have to thank my parents for supporting and encouraging a toddler who didn’t like the taste of meat to make compassionate choices. At the time they were not vegetarians! That eventually morphed into becoming an ethical vegetarian. In college, I looked more into the ethics behind animal products and went vegan shortly after. My decision to be vegetarian and vegan was always because of a compassion for animals first and foremost. But the health and environmental benefits are other great reasons that have helped keep me inspired!

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

I am a graduate student studying synthetic biology at the University of Minnesota. I’m currently working on the first steps towards making artificial systems that resemble cellular life. Outside of that, I love being outdoors, be that on a motorcycle, camping in the forest, on a sailboat, or just drinking beer on a brewery’s patio.

Cecilia Burke

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

Zero Waste Coordinator. My goal is to have as close to zero waste as possible for the whole event!

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I heard of Twin Cities Veg Fest in 2016 while I was a grad student at the University of Minnesota looking for veggie/vegan events and groups. 

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 volunteered as a Zero Waste volunteer for two years. My favorite part of the festival is seeing how many people are there experiencing vegan food. 

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

I decided to try being vegetarian when I moved to Minneapolis in 2016. The less animal products I ate then less I wanted to eat them, and now I can’t imagine going back. 

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

I am a Speech Language Pathologist and I work in schools in the Metro Area. I love game nights, soccer, cooking, and Netflix! 

Dustin (on left) with friends

Dustin Cahill

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

This is my second year managing the WordPress site for the Twin Cities Veg Fest. Staying on schedule so that the website is updated throughout the lead-up to the festival, not just in the last final few weeks prior, is my goal this year.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I started last year, after beginning to serve on CAA’s Tech Team.

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?

When the committee meeting seizes on a new idea for the festival and everyone is excited about it, that’s rewarding to be a part of. I’m looking forward to the evening events being in further fleshed out this year.

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

I’ve never heard a strong argument for any other ethical/dietary “lifestyle,” so getting there was more about putting my ethics into practice. Having a partner that was vegan helped a lot. Meeting new, thoughtful friends through volunteering with CAA also made it easier.

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

I abuse the public library system to find great film, horror and science fiction novels, and comics. I also run, volunteer a couple places, sleep in the sun with my cats, and binge video games. I do AV support at a metro-area community college to collect a paycheck.

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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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