Aside from having a steady rotation of varied delicious vegan meals catered to me every day, the other totally awesome part of Vegetarian Summerfest was the people. The lovely, compassionate, vegan people from all over the place. Let me introduce some of them to you.
One of the best sessions I attended was about public speaking, by Victoria Moran. I had never met Victoria before, but of course, I knew who she was. This workshop was amazing. If I could be half the entrancing speaker that Victoria is, I'd be pretty rockin'.
an "unprocessed" diet. Her cooking demo was a stitch. AJ always has such a great presence and I love her candid way of speaking, but she also sang two plant-based songs and did a headstand. A chef, singer, performer, published author, stand-up comic... Is there anything this woman can't do?!
I had the divine luck of meeting Rae Sikora before we even got to Johnstown. We ran into her at the airport and we happened to have room in our giant rental car for her to hitch a ride with us. We were all on the edge of our seats the entire ride to VS, listening to her amazing stories about all the amazing things she does to help animals and promote kindness and compassion and understanding. Rae is a beautiful, beautiful soul, on a local and international level. (Seriously, this woman is a bad-ass vegan Mother Teresa.) I feel so blessed to have met her. She was a presenter at VS, as well as a vendor, and sought after by practically all attendees. When it came time for us to snap a photo together, it was her suggestion that we do a jumping shot (and I'm ALWAYS game for a jumping picture!).
Another favorite session was with Joseph Connelly (founder of VegNews Magazine), about traveling as a vegan. He had some technical difficulties at the beginning of his session, unfortunately, but once he got started, I was all ears. He mostly talked about his travels around India, and I was enthralled. I wished his session could have been two or three hours longer. I could listen to his stories and look at his pictures for hours. Also, he reminded me of my beloved late uncle, Michael, in the way that he spoke and carried himself.
Other Amazing People Who Were Not Photographed Or Were So Horribly Photographed That I Could Not Share the Photos
* My new friends at for the Animals Sanctuary in New Jersey. They were selling really great buttons and jewelry (and we all walked away with at least 10 buttons each, I believe). We became fast friends with Tyler, Claudia, and Theresa over the week. Looking forward to when our paths cross again!
* The lovely mother-daughter duo with The Fanciful Fox! I had met them for the first time at CT Veg Fest and it was great to run into them again.
* Milton Mills gets some serious cool points for wearing a Tampa Bay Veg Fest t-shirt to Vegetarian Summerfest. (He spoke at the very first TBVF!) Needless to say, the vegan crew from Tampa were greatly amused to spot a TBVF shirt in the crowd!
* I befriended fellow blogger, Jaime of Save the Kales! What an absolutely darling! We talked (blog) shop a bunch, she sat with us at lunch despite our absurd conversations while eating, and we shared lots of laughs.
* The star of the event was Jenny Brown of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. She spoke at one of the plenaries and I guarantee that she had the undivided attention of however-many-hundreds of people were in attendance for it. She's an amazing speaker and her stories and explanations and reasoning are just... sensible. In my own outreach, I tend to stumble over my words. I feel so much in my heart and I have a lot that I want to share, but then words don't come out as eloquently as I'd like. (See? I can't even explain how amazing her speech was!) We were all so excited to catch her early-morning workshop on the morning of the last day of VS, and then bummed when we learned it was canceled (she had to leave early due to an emergency at the sanctuary). The Tampa crew and I all agreed that when her new book, The Lucky Ones, comes out in August, we'll read it for book club in September. Can't wait to get my mitts on a copy of that book!
There were so many lovely people at Vegetarian Summerfest, and the time goes by so quickly, that I could not possibly have met them all. I'll try to next time, though.