By Kimberly Dreher, VegFund Program Director
Adrienne Lusk, director of the Texas VegFest and vice president of the Texas Veg Foundation, recently took time out of her busy schedule to chat with VegFund about the upcoming event.
VF: With the festival just around the corner, we’re thrilled to have the chance to talk with you. Can you start by giving us a general overview?
AL: We have a fantastic event planned for 2013! This year’s event will be held on Saturday April 6th from 11am-6pm at beautiful Fiesta Gardens, right off the lake. We are expecting 5,000 attendees for this event. With all of our activities, sponsors, vendors, speakers, demos, and of course great food and live music, Texas VegFest will be an event that you don’t want to miss!
VF: How did the Texas VegFest begin?
AL: It began as an idea that our now President, Angela Ramsammy, posted on the main vegan community forum of the area, Vegans Rock Austin. The idea was perfect timing for me as I was looking to do an event focusing on veganism but did not have a team. A group of us met in January of 2011 to begin going over the logistics, possible locations, and our ideas for this event. After several months of discussion and fine tuning the team, the foundation incorporated in July 2011, and the festival became an actuality.
VF: What inspired the Texas Veg Foundation to organize the event?
AL: Austin is a city that always has something going on. With such a vibrant scene and a welcoming–as well as rather large–veg community, it was hard to believe that something like this was not already going on in the city. In a sense, that was the inspiration. We wanted to create something good enough to be included in the city’s historic events, something that encompassed what the city represented and offered. The well-networked, plant-based community in central Texas needed to be showcased.
AL: Absolutely not. Our staff was confident that the local vegan community would be there in support, but we did not expect the overwhelming support we received from attendees who were not vegan or vegetarian, who were there to learn more about cruelty-free lifestyles, or those who came from other states and counties. It was definitely a surprise, and I am so glad we could meet the expectations.
VF: What’s been the biggest hurdle?
AL: The biggest hurdle is always weather, but we won’t even go into that! During the planning process, the biggest challenge is fundraising and allocating the funds to be able to deliver the foundation’s mission effectively. Another stressor is making sure to provide the sponsors, vendors, speakers, demonstrators, volunteers, and attendees everything we promise and that all of these parties are communicating with each other.
VF: What do you enjoy most about running the VegFest?
AL: I actually enjoy the logistical aspects and networking of the planning portion. The people I network with are very passionate, and it is such a great feeling to see them be so supportive of Texas VegFest. I also get to learn a whole lot about how the city, county, state, and businesses run. However, THE most enjoyable part of planning Texas VegFest 2012 was during the peak time of the event around 3pm. The event seemed to take on its own form and ran on its own. I was finally able to take a step back and watch all of the months and months of planning at work in full swing. It was an amazing feeling.
VF: What advice do you have for an activist who is thinking of starting a VegFest in his or her community?
AL: Be organized! This cannot be stressed enough.
VF: If people want to volunteer for the Texas VegFest, whom should they contact?
AL: There is still time to sign up to be a volunteer. Not only do volunteers get to work with a group of fantastic people, but they also get an official shirt designed by Herbivore Clothing Company, a special VIP swag bag, and a party in their honor where there will be some great prizes raffled, like a Vitamix 5200! Individuals interested in volunteering can complete the Volunteer form on our website. One of our volunteer coordinators will get in touch shortly. Or, potential volunteers can email us directly at: info[at]texasvegfest[dot]com.
VegFund is glad to be able to support the Texas VegFest and many other national and international vegan festivals that take place throughout the year. If you’re planning a VegFest, or considering starting one in your community, check out VegFund’s Merit Award program for resources and support.