September 24, 2011
My husband and I arrived at the downtown mall at about 1pm. It was cloudy and threatening to rain, but we could tell right away that the weather was not keeping people away. We turned off of the mall and were greeted with a number of vendors at the food court. Nearly all of the food court booths were from local establishments; Maharaja, Royal Indian, Grapevine, La Cocina Del Sol. There was also a booth selling food from an African restaurant in Richmond.
We crossed Market Street and entered Lee park, which was packed with informational booths representing a wide array of businesses and advocate groups. There were representatives from Vegetarian and Vegan magazines and publications, animal rights activists, local health stores and yoga studios, vegan products and a number of local animal shelters with cats and dogs up for adoption.
There was live music and a number of freebies. I picked up free copies of Vegnews and the Vegetarian Journal and free samples of Nature’s Path granola bars, RawRev bars and Equal Exchange chocolates.
When it was time for lunch, I really wanted to try the African food, but when I made my way over to their booth, I noticed that they were serving on styrofoam plates. They weren’t the only ones. Both Indian restaurants were, as well. I went back across the street to Greenie’s and got their grilled root vegetable on naan sandwich instead. They were serving all of their food in eco-friendly containers. The root vegetables were delicious, but the naan was pretty average. It was a little dry and not really soft and I wished they had a whole wheat option. But, I’m just being extra picky because I had high expectations. It was still a very tasty sandwich. My husband opted for the vegan General Tso’s from the Whole Foods truck. He said it was pretty good, but sort of squeaky on his teeth. He is not a vegetarian, and the texture of the tofu was a little strange for him. I picked up a vegan brownie from the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar booth on our way back to our car. I split it with the hubby. We both thought it was good; moist with walnuts and a subtle coconut flavor.
All in all, it was a nice way to spend a cloudy afternoon in Charlottesville. I was hoping for a wider variety of actual vegetarian and vegan food and I’d like to see the Festival require all vendors to use eco-friendly containers. But again, I’m just being picky. The festival is coordinated by volunteers and I’m really happy to see a festival like this in Charlottesville.