Cville Veggie Festival celebrates 20 years

Vegan and vegetarian community comes together

The Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary this past Saturday at IX Art Park. The free event, which was held from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., hosted more than 60 vendors and exhibitors.

Live, local music added a lively beat to the festival. Vendors and exhibitors ranged from national animal rights organizations to vegan beauty suppliers to vegan food trucks.

“I think they have a great mix of vendors,” Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary volunteer Candace Goodyear said. “A lot of organizations [are] involved in animal care so that’s good. Everybody has a good time.”

Exhibitors were there to educate the public about their organization. Many of the organizations were small nonprofits that rely on donations for funding.

“We’re here today at the Vegetarian Festival for exposure to new people who don’t know about us,” Goodyear said. “We see a lot of children and we have a lot of things that are geared towards them, including coloring things. We hope for donations and we also sell our t-shirts and hats.”

On top of bringing together the vegan and vegetarian community, the event allowed those in attendance to explore the possible benefits of becoming vegetarian or vegan.

“It’s a community of people who are vegetarian, or interested in vegetarianism for all [different] reasons: health, animals, ethics, environmental reasons, justice,” second-year College student and Animal Justice Advocates co-president Belle Cifu said.

Cifu said the vegetarian community is diverse in both those involved and the issues they care about.

“There are so many different ways you can be involved in vegetarianism. … There are a lot of different people who care,” Cifu said. “There are a lot of representations of the different issues. They have a lot of information, pamphlets, people you can talk to, ways you can get involved.”

This year’s festival boasted a couple of changes. For the first time, it took place in IX Art Park instead of Lee Park, as it did last year. Other new features included all vegan menus and an evening concert.

“It’s all vegan this year. All the food trucks agreed to vegan menus,” Cifu said. “This year, there actually [was] a concert afterwards. Around 4, it [shifted] into an evening thing.”

On the hot, sunny Saturday, people leisurely walked from tent to tent learning about the benefits of vegetarianism and veganism. A sizable crowd was in attendance.

“We’ve had a steady stream of people,” Goodyear said.

During the evening, the event partnered with Levitt Amp Charlottesville concert series, which offers free concerts at IX Art Park to together the Charlottesville community. Local indie-rock band New Boss opened for Eternal Summers at the festival.

“Even if you’re not vegetarian, it’s such a cool culture,” Cifu said. “It’s such a cool lifestyle. And it’s nice to be aware of it and engaged with it.”

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