By Andrea Pyros
The Hudson Valley isn’t short on celebrations around food. Whether it’s an all-day fête for garlic or a raucous beer, bourbon and bacon festival, we not only like to eat, but also like to do so publicly and proudly. So when local residents Rebecca Moore and Sande Nosonowitz got friendly on a Facebook vegan forum, they were puzzled as to why our neck of the woods hadn’t yet had a massive celebration of all things vegan. The pair decided to roll up their sleeves and organize an event themselves. The result: the first-ever Hudson Valley Vegfest
, scheduled for September 23 and 24 in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Moore explains that she’d seen “huge animal ag-related festivals going on in this region year after year, but with all the amazing vegetable and fruit farms in this region, why was there no big festival celebrating miraculous plants and what we grow here? The vegan economy is a growing multi-billion dollar a year industry. It would just be smart for this region to understand what this market is and learn how we could be a part of that.”
Though our area has a large — and she believes growing — vegan demographic, vegans could still feel “smaller and marginalized here” compared to larger cities where the vegan community is front and center. Her and Nosonowitz’s goal was to “shine a light on the many organizations that are a part of the larger vegan world, and make it clear this is actually a huge global movement.”
To that end, the organizers made sure to make an open-to-all, festive weekend.
“This is an event for all and that can’t be stressed enough. It is especially great for non-vegans who are perhaps even wary of this subject, but are still curious. If you've been curious about veganism and thought you knew really what it was about, expect to be surprised, because it's rare that you get to make all the connections under one roof,” Moore says.
This is where health, animals, the environment, and how good vegan food can be come together. Light bulb moments may happen when you take in the speakers and presenters.
“You are going to go in asking yourself: what does a solar company have to do with vegan pizza and an animal rescue?” Moore says. “But it will all make sense and it just might blow your mind.”
For the already-vegan, it is a chance to support all the groups and businesses that are out there changing the world and a chance to catch up on all they're doing.
“Expect to feel welcomed,” Nosonowitz adds. “You’ll learn from inspirational leaders in the vegan movement, be amazed by the award-winning vegan athletes [Plantbuilt, the award-winning vegan fitness collective of athletes from all over the country, will be in attendance] and be wowed by the food! There is no way you will leave this festival without learning something you didn’t know.”
Tasting, of course, will be a big part of the event. Moore guarantees plenty of delicious offerings from vendors. Champs Diner from Brooklyn is bringing veganized, maxxed-out American comfort foods; Screamers Pizzeria is doing their gourmet vegan pizzas; Yeah Dawg will be making their "fully loaded" vegan hot dog creations; Freakin’ Vegan will bring vegan empanadas; Peaceful Provisions will make those with a sweet tooth happy with vegan donuts and baked goods.
Also on site will be locals Mindful Kitchens and Healthy Gourmet to Go. Chocoholics will find a mini Vegan Chocolate Festival celebration going on, with Lagusta’s Luscious, Chocolate Calling, and Charm School Chocolates. There will be cooking demos, and growers — including Indoor Organic Gardens of Poughkeepsie and Hawk Dance Farm — will be represented so attendees can take home fresh food.
Speakers and presenters will include Dr. Anteneh Roba, president and co-founder of International Fund for Africa (IFA), teen activist Ameliarose Allen who will contribute live music for the event and helm the TEEN VGN booth, and local activist group NY Farm Animal Save. “It meant a lot to me and Sande to have diversity of people, ages and subject matter (and locals) represented in our lineup. We are so proud and excited. I particularly love that we didn't just book well-known voices. We want the festival to herald the new voices and new energy coming into the movement, too,” Moore says.
Moore and Nosonowitz invite everyone to step into the vegan world and learn about the ideals and ethics. And, they promise, no pressure.
Hudson Valley Vegfest
at Gold's Gym (in "The Net" Event Space)
258 Titusville Rd., Poughkeepsie, NY
Saturday, Sept. 23 & Sunday, Sept. 24, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Daily admission: $10 for adults, children 10 and under are free