Another day, another committee member interview. There’s a lot of us! This time we’ve got Mike. Mike works to find vendors and exhibitors. And, uh, he’s pretty great at it, though he says his biggest success was convincing himself to become a sponsor.

TCVF: Hey Mike! How did you get involved in planning the Veg Fest?
Mike: Dave asked me if I was interested. He is bigger than I am so I said yes.

TCVF: Sounds about right. What have you enjoyed most so far?
Mike: Spending time with a bunch of vegans on a regular basis and learning about all the companies that produce great vegan foods.

TCVF: What are you most looking forward to at the Veg Fest?
Mike: Seeing 1,500 or more people who care about animals enjoying Veg Fest.

TCVF: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Mike: I have been volunteering with Howling for Wolves, a great organization trying to stop the trophy hunting of wolves in Minnesota.

TCVF: Who or what species is your favorite animal?
Mike: Cats. (our 4 cats made me say that)

TCVF: Do you have a favorite recipe you can share?
Mike: I embrace any food that is vegan and made by someone who isn’t me. One of the few dishes I can prepare is tofu scramble.

TCVF: What’s rockin’ your world this month?
Mike: Shouldn’t that be spelled rocking?

Sheesh! Make sure you say hi to the resident grammar nerd at Veg Fest!

[Ed: isn’t that “spelling nerd”, Andrew?]

A week from today the Twin Cities Veg Fest volunteer team will be stuffing 1,000 bags. That’s right, one thousand. This monumental undertaking will enable us to provide you, the festival attendee, with the finest swag this side of the Mississippi. That’s the east side if you’re keeping track. However, we promise that if you cross the bridge near Coffman it will still be the best swag on that side of the Mississippi too!

We’ll also have some special goodies in the first 100 or so bags we hand out. Stay tuned for more details on that soon, but for now a hint. Think cookies. Ok, that wasn’t really a hint so much as telling you what one of the special goodies will be, but there could be more.

Did you know that the day after the festival, we’re also hosting an animal advocacy conference? Well, you know now!

Their Lives, Our Voices gathers activists together for an inclusive, high-quality, hands-on conference focused on empowering advocates in their efforts to help farmed animals. This event is accessible to all animal advocates, showcasing diverse topics and perspectives within our movement. Networking and attendee participation are vital to TLOV’s success, so please come and help make our fourth TLOV conference an exceptional event.

This year’s TLOV will be a one day event on Sunday, October 27 from 9:45am to 5:20pm in the Science Teaching & Student Services Building on the University of Minnesota Minneapolis Campus.

Our featured keynote speaker is Nathan Runkle of Mercy for Animals. We have a great set of speakers lined up for the rest of the day too. They will provide a full day of presentations and workshops that will help you become a better advocate for animals.

Registration is $20, with a $10 registration level available for students and low income individuals. You can register online right now. All paid attendees will receive a vegan lunch as part of their registration fee.

Environmental degradation isn’t just bad for people, it’s also bad for animals. As an organization committed to respect and justice for animals, we are trying to reduce our environmental impact wherever possible. We’ve taken a number of steps to make Veg Fest green.

We’ve banned exhibitors from selling bottled water. We doubt any of them wanted to anyway, but now they can’t, so there. We’ll be providing delicious Minneapolis city water at the event. Bring your water bottle from home to help us reduce waste even further!

Our swag bags are made of 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

We have also asked all exhibitors to use compostables for their samples and food sales. By using compostables in this way, we can significantly reduce the amount of waste produced by this event.

Finally, Veg Fest is all about encouraging people to eat lower on the food chain. This is good for animals suffering in factory farms, and it’s also good for the environment.

We’re only three weeks out from the Veg Fest, and you still haven’t met all the members of the Planning Committee. Today, thankfully, you get to meet Raven. Raven is the youngest Advertising Coordinator in Veg Fest history! Simply amazing.

TCVF: So Raven, how did you get involved in planning the Veg Fest?
Raven: I began volunteering with Compassionate Action for Animals last fall, assisting with some of CAA’s smaller events, and soon after was pulled into helping organize the Veg Fest!

TCVF: What have you enjoyed most so far in planning the Veg Fest?
Raven: It’s exciting to help plan such a big event that is only entering its second year. I’m really happy about how neatly Veg Fest is coming together with the hard work of our committee and other volunteers, and how much our vision and goals for this event have come into focus.

TCVF: What are you most looking forward to at the Fest?
Raven: I’m really excited about the food. We’ve been able to be quite selective about the food vendors that we will have at Veg Fest, and a lot of free food will be given away as well.

I’m also looking forward to Their Lives, Our Voices, the activist conference that we will be hosting the day after the Veg Fest. I think this will be a great opportunity for people to dive deeper into animal welfare issues and grow as activists.

TCVF: Hey, thanks for the plug! What do you like to do in your free time?
Raven: I really enjoyed reading and watching movies, when I still had free time.

TCVF: Yes, sorta hard to remember free time. Le sigh. Who or what species is your favorite animal?
Raven: Cats.

TCVF: What’s rockin’ your world this month?
Raven: I don’t know! I saw an actual turkey hanging out in the middle of the city the other day, which was sort of interesting.

An actual turkey? It wasn’t me? Just kidding! That’s a terrible thing to say (about turkeys). Thanks Raven!

Exhibitor Hall

The moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. We’ve finally unveiled our list of exhibitors for this year’s festival! We’re thrilled to share this list with you because we have a lot of great companies, organizations, and individuals joining us this year. We’ll keep updating this list as new exhibitors apply (they love to keep us waiting for some reason).

It’s not too late to apply as an exhibitor, but it will be too late soon, so apply today.

Also, don’t forget to buy your t-shirts and posters before the festival.

We have a lot of great volunteer opportunities still available at the festival this year. Do you like to carry heavy things? Help us out with setup and cleanup! Do you like kids? Help out in the kids area! How about pouring non-dairy milks into sample size cups? Join us at the food giveaway table!

Whatever you choose to do, you’ll be helping make this event a success. Every person who moves towards veganism can have an impact on dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of animals over the course of their life. Help us make this festival a life-changing event for as many people as possible!

Last time on Tasty Food at the Festival, we talked about Asase Yaa and Kitty Corner Cafe. But that’s not all the deliciousness we have planned. Yes, gentlepeople of the Internet, we have more tastiness in store.

Flamingo Ethiopian Restaurant

The vegetarian combo at Flamingo
The veg combo at Flamingo

Flamingo is an Ethiopian restaurant on Syndicate St in St. Paul. They’ll be selling a variety of delicious vegan foods. If you’ve never had Ethiopian before, you’re in for a treat. The foods are simply prepared but rich with flavor. Typical ingredients include lentils, collards, potatoes, and many aromatic spices.

Seward Cafe

Blueberry muffins fresh from the oven
Blueberry muffins fresh from the oven

Seward Cafe has been a mainstay of the Seward neighborhood since 1974. They will be selling a variety of delicious vegan baked goods including cookies and muffins. We’re big fans of the Seward Cafe, and their muffins are some of the best we’ve ever had.

A wild Dave appears! Dave is the Twin Cities Veg Fest Committee Chair – which, as best I can tell, is a fancy way of saying taskmaster. I sat down as Dave “shared” some insight into his personal life and the tremendous (no, seriously!) work behind planning a Veg Fest.

TCVF: Hey Dave! Nice to see you. So, let’s start with the easy stuff. How did you get involved in planning the Veg Fest?
Dave: I’ve been involved with CAA since we were founded in 1998. I like event planning, and doing a festival was something I’d been talking about for at least 8-10 years or so. So when we decided to do it I had to put my volunteer time where my mouth was.

TCVF: What does volunteer time taste like? Nevermind. So what have you enjoyed most so far?
Dave: This year has just been a little easier in almost every way compared to last year. Now that we’ve done it once we have a much better sense of how it all works. Also, having a track record of success has made it much easier to recruit sponsors and exhibitors. Last year it was sometimes a bit of a struggle to convince businesses that it was worth their time, especially those we wanted to be food vendors. This year we actually had too many food vendor applications! That’s a nice change.

TCVF: I bet! What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Veg Fest?
Dave: I’m all about the food. I absolutely love Asasa Yaa’s food and since the restaurant closed many years ago this is one of my few chances to have some. We also have a lot of other delicious food to try, like Theo Chocolate, waffles from Kitty Corner Cafe, and lots of others.

I’m also excited about the concert. I think this adds a lot to the event and I’m hoping I have a chance during the day to catch at least part of one performance.

TCVF: What do you enjoy doing in your free time? This is a trick question, you shouldn’t have any free time.
Dave: Unlike all the other interviewees I’ve seen so far, I’m not much of an outdoors person. I’m very much a stereotypical geek. I like reading, watching things on Netflix, playing video games, and programming. I also like spending time with my lovely wife.

TCVF: Who or what species is your favorite animal?
Dave: I grew up with cats so even though I’m violently allergic to them I still love playing with them. I also love pigs because they’re just so friendly.

TCVF: Do you have a favorite recipe you can share?
Dave: I’ve been lazy recently and not cooking too much, but I do like baking from time to time. I’ve been making a veganized version of the original Tollhouse recipe for chocolate chip cookies that I think comes out really well.

TCVF: What’s rockin’ your world this month?
Dave: Vo’s Vietnamese Restaurant just re-opened in south Minneapolis. This place was open in Northeast from the 90s through 2003 or so. The food is amazing, and it’s where I was married to my wife. I’m thrilled that it’s back.

We’re thrilled too! And we’re also thrilled you agreed to this interview (I mean it!) Thanks Dave! We’ll be back with more titillating volunteer stories when Twin Cities Veg Fest Volunteers – A Love Story returns.