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An Austin Veggie Fest?
msanna Posted at 2009/11/12 3:59pm reply to

msanna
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Hi Guys!

I know we've got a big community of vegans and vegetarians in this city (for Texas), but have we ever had a festival here devoted to all things veg? I know we don't have the population density of cities with the bigger gatherings, but if Charlottesville, VA can have one every year, certainly we can too. Thoughts, insights, opinions?

XO,
Ms. A
bpmojo Posted at 2009/11/12 4:48pm reply to

bpmojo
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Yes I want to organizer one in the spring. you know since i'm like the best event organizer ever (haha)

leslie c. Posted at 2009/11/12 10:06pm reply to

leslie c.
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this would be amazing.  let me know if there is anything i can do to help organize one!
DRiot Posted at 2009/11/13 2:37am reply to

DRiot
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There was a similar fest. in town.. didn't do so well.

Some advice/thoughts;

Titles (and content) such as "veggie fest" would work with more of the general public, "vegan fest" would attract only a similar crowd to what you all ready see here (perhaps a few more).

The question is, what is the goal - is it to have fun and enjoy being around other 100% (or close to it) like-minded people, or is it to reach out/show others (vegetarians, "healthy lifestyle", environmentalists, etc.) that a more plant-based & cruelty-free lifestyle is the way to go WHILE having fun?

If the answer is the 1st one, my event experience says stick with what you know and just try throwing a larger potluck, or maybe a potluck/party with some veg bands.

If the answer is the 2nd one, you need to know how to approach a broader range of people, not just the inner circle of VRA.

Ultimately, I do feel that a veg fest would do quite well here in Austin, however, finding a baseline for what would and wouldn't be acceptable to the fest. may be the difficult part between organizers (for example, one organizer may be comfortable allowing establishments to offer non-vegan bread, or only vegetarian food, while another volunteer may want only vegan. Some may want all vegan bands, while others will be ok with an omnivore band that has a veg singer.).

Once those 'kinks' have been worked out, then it comes to finances, which opens a whole new bag of chips.

Let's say "Joe" wants to throw a house party with vegan bands, a potluck, and a tip jar where all the money goes to Farm Sanctuary and call it "Vegan Fest", rock on. But if Joe wants to use Waterloo Park from the City of Austin, he then has paperwork, forms, determination of costs, etc. Even if it's still a fundraiser and not for profit, if those moneys are handled AT ALL by "Joe" or "Veg Fest" they'd need to be claimed on taxes, even if they're not actual intended income....

The list goes on.

Follow the "KISS" rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid), and START SMALL, and you'll do well. Those two rules apply to ANY event, large or small.

I know many event companies who started throwing keg parties of their own, then coordinating themed frat parties, and moving up into helping major companies throw events at SXSW and other large festivals. I'm not saying this is your goal, but the point is this: Just like you, they saw that a particular demographic had a need, and they filled it, ultimately becoming successful AND promoting a product (in this case, the veg lifestyle and/or diet).

I fully support the idea of *something* and think it will do well here.
msanna Posted at 2009/11/13 12:52pm reply to

msanna
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Cool, thank you for the feedback. DRiot, you're totally right about taxes, financing, etc. It's a huge job and keeping things reasonably simple is vital. I had a previous career in event production so I have some experience with sponsors, venues, vendors and all that stuff.

Personally, I believe a vegetarian festival would do best in Austin if it were a green, veggie, family-friendly event without leaning too far towards the (pardon the expression) "militant vegan" end of things.  I'm a vegan and am passionate about it, but I also think we've got to make it accessible, friendly and non-judgemental so that the many vegetarian and flexitarians around would be interested in participating, as well as green businesses and veg-friendly restaurants that also serve animals. I guess what I'm trying to say is I would like to as inclusive as possible and use that to spread the good word. Right now this is just an idea, but I knew you guys would have awesome suggestions and helpful input.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Ms. A
BeccaGreenIsland Posted at 2009/11/13 10:01pm reply to

BeccaGreenIsland
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Driot and MSanna--you are geniunes, AGREE AGREE AGREE, I can't tell you how many times I wish your voices were on these threads more,
I think a Veggie Festival would be AWESOME and like many 'alternative' and 'green' things, I think it would be welcomed by Austinites with open arms....that is with the premise that we make it a welcoming fun non-threatening event in the first place.
I would love to be a part of this, we are participating in our first festival this weekend for the Chili Cook off and we're really excited and its called the Vegetarian Chili Cook-off but in Parenthesis It says (vegan) and for the chili entrants, it states in the rules that the ingredients must be inspected by the Vegan Police, but they don't advertise that on the flyers, if they said come to the Vegan Chili Cook off and all visitors must pass the check point with the Vegan Police in order to taste the Chilis....think of how many people would go...yeah it might as well be a VRA potluck, my point has always been to make veganism more accesible by realizing all of these points and by being non-threatening and realizing that change starts somewhere and with this diet for alot of people who are resistant to overnight change it starts as flexitarian, then vegetarian then vegan, so I think a Vegetarian festival would be most effective so it would be open to vegetarian and vegan businesses and the food must atleast be vegetarian but not all strictly vegan (but labeled of course) so vegans knew the difference and in addition to food, we could have vegan clothing, footwear, bags, etc. Vegan beauty products etc etc


anyway, in summary I fully support a veg festival, it could be a great way to gain more attention towards our movement and a way to have fun and get together with like minded people at the same time
Ross Posted at 2009/11/14 10:33am reply to

Ross
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I think most people here will agree that attempting to do a vegan-only festival would probably lead to smaller numbers. I think a veggie festival would be awesome and is something I've always dreamed of having in Austin.

>>if they said come to the Vegan Chili Cook off and all visitors must pass the check point with the Vegan Police in order to taste the Chilis....think of how many people would go...yeah it might as well be a VRA potluck

Do you feel like that's how VRA functions?
BeccaGreenIsland Posted at 2009/11/14 1:27pm reply to

BeccaGreenIsland
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Ross, to be honest with you, Yes I do feel that's how a lot of the VRA functions feel like. I understand this is a vegan group and that we only want vegan food at our events and for VRA events, I think we should only have vegan food, but I have vegan friends, vegetarian friends and then many many more what I call "veggie-curious" friends and I just wish I felt comfortable inviting them to some of the functions so they could get a taste for really good vegan food and actually meet some vegans and see that's its really  not that difficult. To me by being welcoming and non threatenting that way we can attract more people to our movement and more people would change their habits, but If I don't even feel welcome half the time and I am now a vegan, how could I expect one of my vegetarian or vegicurious friends would feel coming to a VRA event?
I originally joined this site as a vegetarian looking for like minded people and because I was curious about making the transition to vegan but honestly this site has been one of the least supportive in my transition, I have found more compassion, understanding and tips/tricks from just googling my own recipes online and continuing to hang out with a mixed group of people. I wish it were different, I will keep trying though, it really would be nice to have more vegan friends and for my non-vegan friends to feel welcomed into trying our food and lifestyle, but more than anything its not the food that scares them off or even the idea of living a more compassionate lifestyle, its the attitudes and the thought that its an unattainable standard of perfection.

>I think most people here will agree that attempting to do a vegan-only festival would probably lead to smaller numbers. I think a veggie festival would be awesome and is something I've always dreamed of having in Austin.
>
>>>if they said come to the Vegan Chili Cook off and all visitors must pass the check point with the Vegan Police in order to taste the Chilis....think of how many people would go...yeah it might as well be a VRA potluck
>
>Do you feel like that's how VRA functions?
VeganExplosion Posted at 2009/11/14 1:54pm reply to

VeganExplosion
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we've hung out with vra people as much as possible (we have crazy schedules) but i've never felt like a stranger or an outsider. even when i had a potluck and lots of vra people came and we met them for the first time, it felt like old friends hanging out. i feel like everyone here is just trying to do their best. I invite lots of non vegan friends to events. they may not come but i don't see what would happen if they did. At potlucks it's not like we test eachother's vegan-ness. we just eat and talk about the food and hang out. no stress, no pressure just food.

I think a veggie fest would be awesome. Maybe we could get together with a vegetarian Austin group and organize it. They can organize the vegetarian options and we can organize the vegan options. vegan food booths, raffles for vegan prizes, a vegan food eating contest, etc etc. I think even a veg fest would be awesome bc lots of stuff will be default vegan so everyone can enjoy it. excited
Ripe Tomato Posted at 2009/11/14 8:11pm reply to

Ripe Tomato
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I always wondered why Austin didn't have a veg fest of any kind--I thought maybe because vegans and vegetarians are so prevalent here, it wasn't needed as much as it might be in places with a less vocal veg community--but it honestly never occurred to me that we could throw our own. I love this idea!

I know a lot of vegans and vegetarians who've never been to this site, or to any VRA functions, so I think you guys might be underestimating how big the vegan community is in Austin, but I do think it would be a good idea to advertise as it as a "Veg Fest"(I really like this because it doesn't catagorize it one way or the other, but it's clear that it's for people interested in a plant based diet) or vegetarian festival so that it's not too inclusive.

Becca, I'm interested your opinion, because I've never experienced that with VRA at all, and haven't ever witnessed it. What's happened to make you feel that way? I've occasionally felt like an outsider at events, but it's more because the people who frequent the events seem so close, not because people haven't been nice, or I've felt judged.
Ross Posted at 2009/11/14 11:44pm reply to

Ross
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Yeah, I'm just really curious what it is you've come across that makes you feel that way...I remember there was a thread a while back where we were talking about vegetarianism/veganism and there was one guy on the thread who was being an asshole about people on this site not being vegan enough, but that dude has never been to any of our events and he definitely doesn't represent how most of us feel...

i dunno, i'm just wondering how the idea has come about that we check vegan cards at the door or anything of the like, because we don't, and our events are usually super casual and pretty laid-back(we don't quiz people for ingredients at potlucks and the sort, usually just assume everything's cool)
Daniela Posted at 2009/11/15 8:48pm reply to

Daniela
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i have been on VRA's site for years now, but only starting attending events within the past year. that was my choice, but going to the events has been good. you guys have been great and i know that the threads on this board sometimes get really scientific shall i say, regarding ingredients and how we feed our pets and the approach to businesses is mixed. for example, some of us are very optimistic about a place serving veggie burgers, but others may take it a step further and boycott restaurants if the bun isn't vegan. or veggie sandwiches with bread that contains l cystein. i guess i'm a sucker and still eat it if i know it's mostly good. but i guarantee my ability to eat at places nonvegans eat makes a good mark and lets others know that my veganism is accessible. the idea behind it is being conscious and reducing suffering as much as possible. but VRA is inspiring me to ask more questions about ingredients, and it's still my choice as to whether i boycott the business with what i find out.

VRA is a fabulous group and i feel as welcome as i make it. i try to be outgoing because i know that most of the ppl in VRA have known and socialized for years, so it's been a necessary challenge making myself more known and dare i say, liked. awesome
Ross Posted at 2009/11/15 9:29pm reply to

Ross
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>VRA is a fabulous group and i feel as welcome as i make it. i try to be outgoing because i know that most of the ppl in VRA have known and socialized for years, so it's been a necessary challenge making myself more known and dare i say, liked. awesome

And we're certainly very glad to have you coming around more often these days happy
Amelia Posted at 2009/11/15 11:42pm reply to

Amelia
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I agree that this board gets a bit "scientific" and analytical regarding ingredients sometimes and I just get tired of it. I live with nine vegans and NONE of them talk about food in this way. I'm not microscopic when it comes to my veganism and I think that overanalyzing food puts a burden on being vegan. Which... I'm not into.
carrie Posted at 2009/11/16 12:52am reply to

carrie
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I think the thing I am the most guilty of at potlucks and meetups is not always introducing myself to new people. I'm naturally a bit introverted, so this is something I have to be conscious of. I'm sorry for any bad experiences that people have had at our events. In the past I've brought my omni parents and some omni friends to potlucks, and they were fortunate enough to have good experiences. As far as the "scientific" nature of some of the discussions - I just chalk that up to the presence of some resident quirky weirdos. awesome But I understand that not everyone will see it the same way. This group has been really good to me over the last couple of years as I've gotten more familiar with Austin and learned more about vegan living. If it wasn't for the support of this group I probably would have had a much more difficult time enjoying and embracing veganism. Since I've been coming around to events for a while VRA feels very familial to me. Some people I might relate to better than others. If I find myself conversing with someone spouting some silly, paranoid, or nit-picky sounding goofiness - I'll just laugh at them and say, "You're silly!" or "Stuff it!" Ha Ha.

Well, I hope that the majority of people's experiences with VRA are good - despite some of the badness. Once again, I'm sorry for anything that's happened that makes people feel like VRA is sucky.

Veg Fest - great idea! A fest featuring every shade of vegetarianism under the umbrella of Veg Fest sounds fantastic. Sign me up!
Ross Posted at 2009/11/16 1:17pm reply to

Ross
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I think maybe we should move discussion of the group's appeal/downfalls to a new thread, so we don't take too much away from the thread's original purpose.

Anna- are you thinking that you might be willing to head up organizing such an event?
msanna Posted at 2009/11/16 5:12pm reply to

msanna
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Hi!

I am very excited about the possibility of planning the fest, though I think it's realistic to assume this won't be happening for about six months after the planning process begins. I'm looking into the possibility partnering with a production company for promotion and sponsorship purposes (and for things like booking live music), but don't want to be overly eager and partner with people who aren't interested in keeping the fest green and ethical. Thanks so much to everyone for the enthusiastic responses. The input here makes me feel much more sure that a successful event is totally possible.

XO,
Ms. A
Georgeous Posted at 2009/11/17 8:09am reply to

Georgeous
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I know Austin already has a green living conference every year, but I think we may need to market this as a green festival. Of course, veg'n lifestyles are very green and environmentally friendly, so it'll easily become a veggie fest and we can talk about these lifestyles as being 'green' and not just animal rights protests (which can make some look like anarchists lol).
It would also open up for more participants- wares vendors, food vendors, lots more organizations would be able to table, etc. On the idea of mixed food vendors, just make it a requirement that all vendors make obvious which dishes are vegan, so it takes the guesswork and quizzing off the vegans. At ACL, for instance, all the food banners had (V) next to veggie dishes.
Craig? Posted at 2009/11/17 11:55am reply to

Craig?
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http://www.sustainablewaves.com/

all solar live sound, peeps!!  I used to help them out with Solar Tuesdays.  I haven't talked to Billy in a while, but if he is still helping them out, I highly recommend him.  eh, let's see I think he has a website too....  well, I can't find it, but I'm still friends with him on facebook/myspace, so if anyone wants to get in touch with him for this, let me know.
posirich Posted at 2009/11/18 5:45am reply to

posirich
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i think it's a great idea.

driot: handling money and income are two separate things.  The only money counted as income is either the money you pay yourself, or the profit you make from the event. money put into the event that you may have had as treasurer or what have you is not income.  A bank account for such an event or org. solves any unintended income issue that may arise.

If members of VRA form a veggie fest non profit, and those members are paid for their work, then that is their income.

I'd definitely be into working on this as a project. The best way to generate funds would be to contact veg friendly corporate sponsors like nadamoo, boca, morningstar, tofutti, vegetarian times, clif bar, etc., bring them in, and then build around that with all the local mostly vegan places, adding places like the vegan spa, veg yoga instruction, veg musicians, and green alternative energy, etc.
I've never been to a veggie fest, but i imagine a successful large scale one would be built around such sponsors and i know that's how transmission makes funfunfunfest and don'tmesswithtexas successful.

msanna Posted at 2009/11/18 9:06am reply to

msanna
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Re: Posirich's comments. Yes. That.

Also, profit is the least of our worries. Even the huge, successful (in terms of attendance and sponsorship) fests like FFF/MesswithTX, the company that puts them on barely breaks even. The approach should be community building and making Austin a healthier, cooler place, and definitely not trying to make money. Not because I'm against making money, just cause I'm a realist happy

PS- Craig, that's flippin cool!
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