BLUEGRASS VEGFEST EXPERIENCE by VPA athlete Patrick Messenger
Can you spot Patrick in the picture?
"I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed being at and participating in the Bluegrass Vegfest in Louisville KY yesterday! The HUGE crowd at that event was w/o question the most diverse, eclectic, warm, cool crowd I've ever seen at a vegan event. There were people there from EVERY racial and ethnic group, age range, lifestyle and creed. There were biker-types, blue-haired hipsters and blue-haired older ladies. I saw families with kids and childless couples; teenagers in groups, and single people just hanging out. There were Blacks, Whites, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, Indian Americans, Pacific Islanders, South-Asian Americans, straight, LGBTQ and I suspect, those who were gender fluid — EVERYONE was represented! Literally every American demographic seemed to be there, and amazingly everyone was comfortable and cool with each other.
I hate to sound trite or naive — but it was absolutely beautiful to see and experience! Much of the time I stood around looking on in what I can only describe as "wonderment" (wonder + amazement) just taking it all in. I hadn't experienced that kind of feeling since I'd been in the crowd at Barack Obama's first Inauguration. I was in an America I both recognized and didn't. It was certainly the country I wished for, but seldom see. I didn't want the day to end. The Bluegrass Vegfest was truly one of those amazing events where "you shoulda been there!” -Dr. Milton Mills
Did I get your attention?
2022 Bluegrass VegFest was amazing. It was held at Mellwood Arts Center, a former meat packing plant, in Louisville, Kentucky. Over 6000 people were in attendance, and this created an electric environment for attendees, vendors, restaurant owners, and speakers alike. 2023 Bluegrass VegFest will be held on July 15th in the same location, and we are ready to bring it again this year.
You read that right… We host our VegFest in a former meat packing plant. It is just removed from a small neighborhood, called Butchertown. Why? Because it brings the spirit of the present forward and vindicates our cause as the voice for the voiceless: the animals.
Sure, you may have read some reviews and critiques about our event having TOO MANY PEOPLE (there were 6000 of us!) and that vendors were unprepared for the turnout to be as large as it was (many of them sold out within the first 3 hours!). This did create long lines and waiting times for food, as well as packed walking and gathering spaces in and around the facilities, and the most filled parking lot I’ve seen at Mellwood Arts Center. EVER.
But if life has taught me anything, it’s that perspective is everything. I think this is a great “problem” to have. Why? Because it means there are a lot more people out there that want to step up and be the voice for the voiceless and that the VEGAN movement and lifestyle is mainstream and growing stronger than we anticipated! It means that there’s a lot more veg-curious folks out there and our event just became a springboard into the Vegan Revolution. And we are proud of our showing in 2022!
And you know what else? In 2023, we will be ready. Because you all showed up in a beautiful, unexpected, totally amazing way. And we appreciate every single one of you.
In 2022, we had some stellar speakers! Dawn Hilton-Williams kicked us off with an incredible cooking demonstration and tasting. Gene Baur, Co-Founder and President of Farm Sancutary was next. John “Badass Vegan” Lewis was third on the docket and my personal favorite speaker of the day. He was followed by Toni Okamoto, the founder of Plant-Based on a Budget. The final guest speaker for the day was none other than Dr. Milton Mills, who is featured in the Netflix documentary, “What The Health.” I’ve included their socials and websites at the bottom of this article. Please give them a follow so we can continue building this community together!
We also had an AMAZING lineup of vendors! From food trucks to pop up restaurants, non-profits and activists, to health practitioners and fitness pros, we had it all! Check out this link to see the full list of vendors: https://www.bluegrassvegfest.com/exhibitors
For those of you that joined us in 2022, THANK YOU. We are excited to have you back again in 2023. We hope that you’ll join us and invite a friend or two or 17 to come as well!
Peace, Love, and Veggie Grease,
-Photo Credit: Leo Weekly
John “Badass Vegan” Lewis