Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Three Great Recaps...

We keep hearing so many stories from people about how they were blown away by Chicago VeganMania. There weren't a whole lot of people from the media there, but we did inspire a couple of really heartfelt and positive stories.

First, ChicagoNow.com columnist Shamontiel, dropped in to check it out and ended up staying all day and then writing this wonderful column (which contains a nice photo album!).

And Examiner.com columnist Marla Rose (full disclosure: she was also a key organizer of CVM) wrote this beautiful recap.

Then, today, AFreshSqueeze.com sent out this fantastic story and video.

We'll keep reposting stories like these as they come in.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

WOW! What a Day!

The first Chicago VeganMania festival is now history, and it is the general consensus among the organizers, participants, and attendees that it exceeded everyone's expectations! First, let's talk about the crowd. When the doors first opened at 10:00, the line of people waiting to get in stretched for more than two blocks, and there was a steady stream of people coming in all day until a few minutes before closing. We're still gathering the numbers, but all fours rooms werye pretty packed all day. The crowds overwhelmed the food vendors, many of whom had been expecting this to be a much smaller event (we tried to tell everybody it would be big, but no one predicted how big it would be), and several vendors ran out of food, some even before noon. Thanks to some heroic effort by several of them, notably Soul Vegetarian (who made three trips back to South 75th Street to load their truck full of more food!) everyone was eventually fed, and most were happy despite the long lines. As far as the food itself, there was a great variety from raw foods from Cousin's Incredible Vitality and Raw Creations, comfort foods from Soul Veg and The Chicago Diner, quick treats from Veggie Bite, Upton's Naturals, Great Taste Café, Cru Cacao, and Delicious Café, and a wonderful sampling of delectable goodies from Ste. Martaen vegan cheeses, Match (vegan) Meats, and Vega smoothies.

Then there was the entertainment! The mainstage was alive all day starting with pop punksters Circular Convention, a trio of 13-year-old girls who played with enough enthusiasm to set the whole place ablaze. Next, everyone was treated to an amazing performance of belly dance from Deserae, who, at one point, danced with a sword on her hip and another on her head. She was followed by the great singer-songwriter Bryan Harrell, who peppered his act with songs from his CD about our relationships with animals, "A Rare Breed of Love." He was followed by an electrifying performance of electronica from synth artist dreamlogicc, whose snakelike contortions matched the twist and turns of his music, and then the dance troupe Pyrotechnic, whose acrobatic spinning performance held the crowd in rapt attention. The day was brought to a close by the powerful funk-influence rock of Darmata, whose tight instrumentation and tongue-twisting vocals brought down the house.

Nearby, in the Gallery Hall, attendees enjoyed a gallery filled with the stunning works of six different woman artists, as well as a beautiful display of cruelty-free couture in the Compassion Fashion Gallery. They also strolled around tables bedecked with the wares of fashion, jewelry and bodycare vendors, all enveloped by a hypnotic bed of music laid down by DJs Peter Propaganda, Scarylady Sarah, and Veganinblack.

And across a hallway filled with tables manned by our sponsors and speakers, the Exhibitor Room hummed with the activity of dozens of booths from progressive companies and a vast array of nonprofits. One visitor from out-of-state couldn't believe his eyes, "You mean you have several vegetarian, vegan and raw communities?" The far side of the room was filled with the laughter of happy children as they built musical instruments and played games in the Children's Center.

Meanwhile, upstairs, the Speaker's Hall drew large audiences to hear wonderful presentations from EarthSave International's Caryn Hartglass, Nathan Runkle from Mercy for Animals, author and activist Dr. Will Tuttle, Dr. Michael Greger from the Humane Society, and Rae Sikora and JC Corcoran from Plant Peace Daily. I was working the mainstage all day, so I didn't get to catch much of the activity upstairs, but I've heard only great things about it. One man who followed family members into Dr. Tuttle's speech before planning to get a Salisbury steak from one of his favorite restaurants in the neighborhood, found himself suddenly ready to convert to a vegan diet.

All in all, it was an amazing, uplifting, and incredible day. There will be a lot more stories and photos to come as we all process the information from the day. In the meantime, we'd love to hear your reactions. Please feel free to comment about your impressions of the event.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Same dancers, different name

Chicago is far too vast and diverse of a place for even the most culturally aware among us to keep up with all the exciting changes that happen all around us. We have been informed that SPUNN, the dance troupe we had scheduled to perform at 2:30 pm, has dissolved. Not to worry, though. Key members of the troupe, including the exact ones we had scheduled to dance at Chicago VeganMania, have regrouped into an even more dynamic ensemble called Pyrotechniq. So now, Pyrotechniq is performing at 2:45.

Pyrotechniq is one of the country's premier fire-dancing troupes. And while the Chicago Park District won't let us use real fire in this elegant old building (and once you see the gorgeous space, you won't be able to blame them for that), you will still witness a breathtaking display of dexterity and athleticism as the dancers perform with spinning poi, lighted hoops and other props. You won't want to miss it!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's almost time!

It's been a very crazy last few weeks. Sorry we haven't kept the blog updated, but there are a million details in putting together an event of this scope.

And boy, what an event it has become! We have ten restaurants and food vendors, 46 other vendors, four wonderful live bands two dance groups, and three DJs, six nationally-recognized vegan speakers, an art gallery featuring the work of six great women artists, the Compassion Fashion Gallery featuring the latest in cruelty-free couture, a lively children's center, a Spectacle Parade, and so much more!

Here is the schedule for the speakers:

11:00 - Caryn Hartglass – EarthSave International
12:00 - Nathan Runkle – Mercy for Animals
1:00 - Dr. Will Tuttle – author of The World Peace Diet
2:00 - Dr. Michael Greger – Humane Society of the United States
3:10 - a workshop with Rae Sikora and JC Corcoran of Plant Peace Daily.

Here is the schedule for entertainment:

10:45 - Circular Convention – preteen product of Girl's Rock Chicago
11:30 - Deserae – cabaret style belly dance
12:15 - Bryan Harrell – acoustic folk music
1:15 - dreamlogicc – electronica
2:30 - SPUNN – high energy dance
3:15 - Darmata – funk rock

At 3:45 pm, a Spectacle Procession featuring children with dancers, musicians and others will wind through the building

In addition, DJ veganinblack, Peter Propaganda, and Scarylady Sarah will all be spinning 80s music and darkwave throughout the day in the Gallery Hall.

The food vendors include these fine restaurants: The Chicago Diner, Cousin's Incredible Vitality, Delicious Café, The Great Taste Café, Soul Vegetarian, and Veggie Bite, and well as these great vegan food companies: Cru Cacao raw chocolates, Match Meats, Raw Creations, Ste Martaen cheeses, Vega/Sequel Naturals, and Upton's Naturals.

Don't forget about the free swag bags for the first 100 people to come through the door.

We'll see you there. This is going to be amazing!