Chicago VeganMania 2011
Chicago VeganMania 2011 was the biggest and most exciting event we’ve had to date. More than 2,500 people packed the six big halls of the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse and dined on fare from a wide array of restaurants on our Vegan Food Court. The Chicago Diner, Soul Vegan, Upton’s Naturals, Arya Bhavan, Urban Vegan, The Vegan Food Truck/Ste. Martaen, Drew’s Eatery and Canary Confectionery all dished out a wide array of delicacies and stayed very busy the entire day. Meanwhile, twenty food companies kept the East Gym hopping with free samples of gourmet vegan marshmallows, cheese, popcorn, kombucha, chocolates, fruits and juices, pocket sandwiches, and all manner of baked goodies. And 45 other vendors turned the West Gym into a spectacular mall stocked with vegan clothing, handbags, jewelry and accessories, a wonderful array of bodycare, cosmetics, fragrances, candles, pillows, household goods and books as well as services ranging from wellness care to financial planning, plus a broad assortment of great nonprofits from vegan and animal rights, animal welfare and animal rescue groups to environmental and local food groups. Many of our generous sponsors and media sponsors also had tables here.

Our Chef Demo Area was cooking with fun and enlightening presentations from Laviyah Ayanna of The Vegan Food Truck and Ste Martaen vegan cheese, Melissa Sabaduquia of The Chicago Diner, Ryan & Mary Howard from Chicago Soydairy (creators of Temptation ice cream, Teese cheese and Dandies marshmallows), raw chef Linda Szarkowski of Green Spirit, and Sandi Swiss, the goddess behind Canary Confectionery.

Upstairs, the Speaker Room was drawing big crowds all day to see and hear author and communications expert Pamela Ziemann, Mercy For Animals' Kenny Torrella, Vegan Outreach's Jon Camp, and Cynthia Bathurst of Project Safe Humane, plus our "Powered By Plants" panel, featuring some amazing local and national athletes: Nicole Sopko, Amanda Riester, Brian Duda, and Robert Cheeke.

The Entertainment Stage provided a wonderful and diverse soundtrack for the day with inspired performances from Zach, Matthew Brockman, Kidz in the Mix, The Ones, The Exponential, and DJ Dominion.

This year we also introduced a whole new experience within an experience with our soulful Culture Café – a dynamic showcase of vegan culture and talent featuring live artist Zac Franzoni, Marci Rubin Art and Framing Mode & Gallery, jewelry from Michele Rubin. The Culture Café featured a second performance stage featuring poets Jodi Daquilanea, Steve Brightman, and T.M. Göttl, and singer-songwriters Robinlee Garber, Ahymnsa, Mari Therese, Immovable Types, and Ollie Davidson as well as DJ Veganinblack. Chicago’s Delicious Cafe offered vegan baked goods and organic Counter Culture Coffee complete with the Alternative Milk Bar.

The Vegan Rockstar Photo Booth captured more dozens of attendees posing with whimsically painted cardboard instrument props on a stage. And three towering Graffiti Wall panels invited anonymous tags and expressions for an interactive work of collaborative art.

The newly expanded Family Activities Area gave kids the chance to decorate and eat their own vegan (and gluten-free!) cupcakes from Bot Bakery, build beautiful keepsake nature journals with the Peggy Notebaart Nature Museum, and exercise on the mini playground provided by our friends at Balance Boards and Beams. Our impressive volunteer staff, headed by vegan moms Lisa Joy Rosing and Mandy Solon, also kept the kids busy with a Build Your Own Animal Sanctuary exhibit, facepainting, pumpkin painting, animal mask making, a children's
Marci Rubin Art and Framing, and a wide range of arts and craft activities.

The whole day ran smoothly thanks to nearly 100 volunteers guided by organizer extraordinaire Mikael Nielsen. This included an amazing group of volunteers working behind the scenes to divert every possible bit of trash out of the wastestream and into a process where it would be either recycled or composted. Under the warm leadership of the amazing Gill Gillono, the Green Team successfully recovered more than 85% of the event's waste.

The whole affair was generously sponsored by Platinum sponsors Chicago Soydairy and John Beske Communications/Wide Awake Books, Gold sponsors The Chicago Diner, Consolidated Printing and Veg Fund, Silver sponsors Mercy for Animals, Bronze sponsors The Book Publishing Company, Collective Resource, and SoulVegan, and media sponsors CLTV, Mindful Metropolis, Natural Awakenings, and WCPT, as well as in-kind sponsors Framing Mode Gallery and Teknosis Audio.

Chicago VeganMania, September 29, Broadway Armory

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