I went to the DC VegFest for the first time this year, to table for Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. Tabling is something I find easy, and of course tabling for an animal sanctuary at a vegfest is as easy as it gets.
There was some great food there, and big crowds. Crowds big enough that it was frustrating fighting my way through the throng to get a plate of food. Toscana Green, Amsterdam Falafel shop, Nirvana Indian, Sunflower, Emily’s, Vegan Treats, Stickyfingers. Java Green sold out in the first couple of hours. The line for Vegan Treats was at least a half hour long the entire day; they were still selling stuff when the vegfest ended.
There were speakers, some of whom I’d have loved to hear, but I didn’t get there early enough to hear any speakers or visit any booths other than the food booths.
partially eaten dinner of vegan steak from toscana green
I concentrated my efforts on letting people know about the sanctuary and convincing them to come out for a visit. The sanctuary is having their annual Open House in a few weeks, on Sunday October 4, but of course people can arrange tours at any time.
Outreach is the point of a sanctuary. Outreach to people who are already vegan is preaching to the choir, but once vegans know about it, they tend to bring non-vegans.
I could see this thought growing in several of the people I talked to. One of the tablers for Compassion for Animals, the table directly across from the sanctuary’s, came to talk to me afterward. He has a friend who is really close to going vegan, would a visit to the sanctuary help? I told him how powerful it is for most people to see these animals as individuals, to be faced with the fact that they are thinking, feeling, sentient individuals. Not products, not crops, but living breathing beings who have a strong will to live.
One woman was new to the area, and thrilled to realize that there was a sanctuary in the area. She had just started helping out at a sanctuary where she’d moved from, and was determined to start volunteering at Poplar Spring. I am always trying to recruit!
The VegFest was held outside on the George Washington campus, and I think a lot of the visitors were students. It was near a metro stop, and overall seemed to be well organized. I only wish I had had time to explore more of what the fest had to offer.
I would declare it to be a successful day. I had many very positive conversations, talked to interesting people, ate some great food, and went home with a week’s worth of Vegan Treats and Emily’s desserts. COK, the organizer of the VegFest, said that they estimate 2500 attendees. That seems like a good number to me! And while many of them were likely already vegan, I’m sure there were quite a few who were not. I heard part of something Erica said, I think after the final speaker, when she explained that they started the VegFest to showcase what vegan options were available in DC. I’d say they did a good job of that. She also asked for people to raise their hands if they were thinking of going vegan after attending the VegFest, and she saw at least a few hands being raised!
That’s awesome, to me.