Veggie Fest patrons make their way through the festival grounds of a previous fest. | Sun-Times Media File
♦ Aug. 11-12
♦ Science of Spirituality Meditation Center, 4S175 Naperville Road, Naperville
♦ (630) 955-1000
Updated: August 10, 2012 5:00PM
Organizers hope that everyone can find something to enjoy at the seventh annual Veggie Fest.
Veggie Fest, a family-friendly festival that celebrates a vegetarian way of life, is from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the grounds of the Science of Spirituality Meditation Center. There is free parking at Navistar.
Organizers expect more than 22,000 attendees to come out and sample the various meat-free items and listen to live music.
“We’re going to have a huge, very exciting international food court with lots of options for people,” said spokesman Jonathan Kruger. “Along with that, we’re going to have great live music. We have more than 100 vendor booths on topic and on the theme of the healthy lifestyle.”
About two dozen speakers will discuss such healthful topics, and there will be food demonstrations throughout the day to help teach people how to cook fun vegetarian meals.
“We have some leading chefs, including Karin Calabrese from Karin’s Kitchen, which is a pretty popular vegetarian restaurant in the city,” he said.
Miss Chicago Marisa Buchheit — a vegan — will attend the festival and help out in the children’s tent, in addition to singing a couple of songs on the main stage. The Children’s Tent offers arts and crafts tables, face painting stations, healthy snacks, vegetarian-focused game and musical performances. All children’s activities are designed and managed by professional educators.
“We’ve got a great children’s program,” he said. “It is constantly filled with all kinds of crafts and fun stuff for the kids. It is really a day of family fun.”
There will also be some musicians performing kid’s songs in the Children’s Tent, such as Live Wire, a rock ’n’ roll group with a 9-year-old vegetarian drummer.
Fest-goers can take the Vegetarian Challenge, where they pledge to abstain from eating meat for a week. Last year, nearly 3,000 people took the challenge. Don’t forget to pick up a coupon book with thousands of dollars of vendor discounts.
They can also participate in a food drive and a blood drive, and even learn how to meditate. Plus, there’s a Veggie Fest Art Show with paintings celebrating the festival.
Bands include the folk group The Giving Tree Band, reggae group Gizzae, international group Caribe Son Internacional, and singer-songwriter Zach.
“Our goal is to present the compassionate lifestyle and the vegetarian way of life in a very easy way,” he said. “We have purposely stayed away from vendors who are aggressive or try to be in people’s faces or try to convince people or use images that are not tactful. We try to keep it light and fun.”
Kruger hopes people have a good time and have a beautiful day outside with their families, he said.
“We hope they walk away with a better understanding of the benefits of being a vegetarian — from the physical, the mental, and the spiritual, psychological and compassionate side. It’s easy; it’s not difficult to do. If they walk away with a few ideas of how to make their lives healthier, we’d be happy with that.”