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Vegetarians convene

Mmmmm. The smell of sizzling veggies floats through the air as kids have their faces painted in vibrant colors. Restaurants give out a plethora of free food, and patrons trade recipes of vegetarian delicacies.

It's all happening here in C'ville at the end of this month.

On the 30th, between 11 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., the fourth annual Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival will be held in Lee Park, just one block from the Downtown Mall.

The festival will highlight local natural and organic food vendors and restaurants, including Baja Bean, Ming Dynasty and Integral Yoga Natural Foods, and is organized by Voices for Animals, an animal rights group based in Charlottesville.

The number of participating local eateries increases practically every day as the event approaches.

"Every year a couple new people sign up in the last two weeks" prior to the festival, said Marianne Roberts, media coordinator for the vegan festival.

The event will be out in the open, and each local vendor will have a booth, said Roberts. She antici

pates between 60-70 vendors will participate, and all eateries at the event also will have free product samples.

Some booths will be sizzling with vegetarian cooking demonstrations, while some of the event sponsors, including Veggie Heaven, Echo, and will have informational stands promoting nutritional information, and providing vegan cookbooks and recipes for interested customers.

The festival hopefully will lead to a more improved lifestyle for those who take the advice offered, said Roberts.

She added that a vegan lifestyle is a good way to avoid some health risks.

Erik Marcus, author of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, will give a talk espousing the healthy results of turning to a vegetarian diet.

The event was once held in the Downtown Mall Amphitheater, but was moved because there was not enough space to accommodate all the anticipated patrons.

"We expect about 2,500 people this year," Roberts said. The last two years, about 2,000 attended.

Compiled by Adam Justice

Odds ideas? Call Ryann at 924-1092.