1st Annual Cleveland VegFest!

The weekend after Vida Vegan Con was Cleveland's first Vegfest - a huge victory for this midwestern state. The excitement had been brewing since late last summer, when it was first announced. The following October, the organizers held a Gala to raise support, funds, and awareness of the upcoming event - which definitely stirred up my excitement!

The bf and I arrived hungry and ready to be awed. Armed with our sourcebook and food tickets, we scanned the first room, containing all of the food vendors. This place was PACKED. I really don't think they knew just how many people were going to attend. Crammed into the student center of Cleveland State University, the vendors all gathered in the center of the foyer and patrons circled around their tables - yet there was simply not enough room to get around comfortably. After a few bouts of claustrophobia, we selected our lunches and sat outside in the sun.

The bf chose an Asian-inspired rice & veggie bowl with all sorts of heat added to it (mango habenero sauce, if I'm remembering correctly?). I saw Empress Taytu, the Cleveland Ethiopian restaurant, and made a beeline. Selecting a plate of avocado salad, greens, yellow lentils, and chickpeas with a side of teff injera, I was ready to nom. Wish I had gotten the correct names for each of the dishes, yet there simply wasn't enough space or time to do so. This was very yummy!

Having happy tummies, we did brave the crowd to see what other vendors were present. One of our favorites, Aladdin's Eatery - with bomb hummus and hot sauce - was there.

Flaming Ice Cube, with two Ohio locations, was also there, with plenty of sweets. The black bean corn salsa is to die for.

Ms. Julie's Kitchen was in attendance, also, representing Ak-rowdy. Offering Plant Kingdom treats, kale chips, and cashew cheeze - this place is surely one not to miss.

The Sweet Spot is a gelateria boasting 2-3 vegan flavors in rotation, as well as many different sorbets. This is the vegan vanilla gelato and stopped us both in our tracks - the best vanilla ever.

Vegan Sweet Tooth is an all-vegan bakery located in the swanky Eton mall. I was pleased to see some gf options, knowing that I had absolutely loved their cupcakes during my last visit when they hosted the Vegan-Palooza last year.

Check it out! Mini vegan gf cake pops.

Another find was Poison Berry Bakery - a small, home-based bakery which is currently looking for a store-front. Just look at that menu!

I walked away with a gf Jazzhands Cupcake (lemon raspberry), which was out of this world, some cookie dough balls, and "BFF Balls" (PB&J).

Little dollop of jelly!

Here's the view of the food vendors from a few floors above - wondering how much it'll expand next year.

I was pleased to run into Tami Noyes of the blog Vegan Appetite, as well as the books American Vegan Kitchen, Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!, and newer publications Grills Gone Vegan, and Whole Grain Vegan Baking. Such a sweet vegan!

It was there that we also perused the other organizations and vendors who had set up camp, including Mercy for Animals.

We then rushed over to catch the one speaker I could not miss. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau gave a speech during VVC I which left me mesmerized... I was totally thrilled to see she would be in Cleveland for this event. She spoke comically about the way we traditionally have chosen our food products, then seriously about encouraging folks to step back and understand the bigger picture behind the food industry and to make choices which truly follow one's values. It was a wonderful speech and a wonderful way to round out or afternoon at VegFest.

Until next year!

Also: Don't forget to enter the Veggie Grill Giveaway before it's too late!