#TCVegFest — Twin Cities VegFest Recap — October 28–29, 2016 @ Coffman Memorial Union (Univ. of MN)

Maybe you would care for a soothing audio file to make this reading even more enjoyable? How about an episode of my podcast featuring Mateo Fischer? Well then, you’ve got it, dude.

(Maybe subscribe to the podcast on iTunes while you’re at it.)

Great, it’s nice to have you on board and fully immersed in the Twin Cities VegFest atmosphere. TC VegFest has been going on for a few years now and due to its growth and popularity, this was the first year that they decided to have it be a two-day fest. I was curious how attendance would be; would more people come on Saturday and leave Sunday a ghost town, or would they be relatively similar? The answer, a heavier Sunday with a more laid back atmosphere on Sunday, but still busy enough to justify two days worth of vegan goodness.

Now before I get too far, you do NOT need to be vegan or even vegetarian to enjoy this fest. In fact, if you are just curious or feel “daring” enough to try some vegan foods, I’d recommend this as a place to start. The admission is free and there are samples galore. If you have a veg-friend, bring them and then sample the numerous foods that they will inevitably purchase — our eyes fool our stomachs at events like this, where else can we get this much great vegan food?!

So what exactly does a “VegFest” include? Well, there was the food (which I covered briefly); then there are vegan clothing and lifestyle items like books, decor, and even travel tours in Florida; information on animal sanctuaries and veterinarians to answer questions about your pets; and cooking demos and guest speakers in an auditorium giving hour long information sessions. So you could say that it is an intense 5 hour day times two days.

What are some of the things I did/ate/visited?

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I ate this great Jamaican Jerk fry-bread taco from Root To Rise. This was a great choice to lead off the fest. They also had a “walking taco” which was taco ingredients in a bag of Bacon Habañero chips by Late July (yep, those chips are vegan, even though it says “bacon”). If I was able to spread this fest out a full week, I would have tried everything.

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Then I visited a booth that has made my puppy happy for quite some time, Amelia & Holly’s Canine Treats! Jill (pictured above) makes great vegan dog treats. Simple ingredients like peanut butter, bean flour, and fruits make these dog treats even enjoyable for human consumption. I bought Evie the blue bag in the picture (Tangled Pup In Blue); this is a blueberry snack, and she LOVES it. Since Evie has some senativities to foods, it’s nice to have a grain-free, animal-free choice for snacks.

Cool story, the company was named after Jill’s daughter (Amelia) and their rescue pup (Holly). I urge you to check out their website and see the good things they are doing by selling these puppy treats.

Lost in the shuffle was my photo of my purchase from The Herbivorous Butcher — a Seoul Dog, which was a Korean brat on a Bao bun topped with two sauces and Kimchi. I’ll get back to the volunteering part later…

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Then there was dessert. This was only ONE of the things I had, a wonderful “Fall Spice” cupcake from Vegan East. Their cupcakes transcend vegan food, if you are a human who enjoys sugary foods, you will love this. This might be the food that starts to unite vegans and omnivores.

I also had a delicious Horchata popsicle from St. Pops. And I might have had a small, but spicy, cupcake from the always wonderful Nicky’s Comfort Candy. Habañero combined with pineapple put into a cupcake? Sign me up!

And that was just day 1.

Day 2 started off much differently. I was asked at 9:SOMETHING (that’s 9-something o’clock) if I was interested in helping out The Herbivorous Butcher. They were down a person due to illness and were looking for someone to help while their two creators were giving a cook demo. I didn’t hesitate, because I knew that group of people is awesome and it would be a fun experience.

I started off being the last member of the assembly line, the guy who got to deliver the happiness to the customer. I handed over so many nachos, double-decker tacos, and Seoul dogs. And yet, it was still nothing compared to the mayhem of Saturday and the work the real workers were doing to make the food.

As time wore on and people’s duties took them elsewhere, I got to make the big leagues… I poured cheezy goodness on double-deckers and topped of some Seoul dogs like a pro (but not a professional at the MLB level, more like a lower minor league level… but still professional).

After a few hours of helping, I met up with Mateo and purchased another St. Pop treat, this time of the Watermelon Mint variety. Then I went over to Nicky’s Comfort Candy (again) and bought the caramel-y spicy stuff I love… Inca Balls, Ghost Pepper Caramels, and Hot Balls (I forgot the name of the last one, but it is a delicious caramel center with chili pepper infused, surrounded by chocolate cake, and covered in chocolate along with white chocolate drizzle).

*author’s confession: I ate all the caramels before I got home. That was not intended, but unfortunately a common occurrence.*

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After my sweet-tooth run, we headed down stairs to partake in some free bowling (Mateo was a former student there and knew that it was “Sunday Funday”). Which brings us back to the top of this blog… we recorded the podcast while bowling. It was crazy fun and mirrored the fantastic weekend-long fest.

I cannot wait for TC VegFest 2017!

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