Keep calm and veg on at RVA’s 13th Annual Vegetarian Festival

The verdant setting, the colorful cuisine, the pet-friendliness…there’s just something about the Veggie Fest that other food festivals don’t quite have.

Richmond summers are jam-packed with fantastic festivals – and a great deal of them, luckily for us, are food-themed. It’s no secret that RVA has become a food-lover’s destination, with so many talented chefs cooking up unique and delicious cuisine, it’s hard to pick just one (or two, or three!) restaurant(s) to dine at on any given day. This is exactly what makes food festivals so completely perfect. You get to check out multiple food vendors, giving your taste buds a glimpse of each restaurant’s (or food truck’s) offerings.

This Saturday, June 20th from 12:00 until 6:00 PM, the Vegetarian Festival will be celebrating its 13th year. Since its conception in 2002, the family and pet-friendly festival has grown immensely in popularity. In its early years, the event saw a few thousand patrons, while this year, event planners anticipate that the festival will draw over 12,000 people. And, with more than 30 food vendors serving up everything from sushi and pizza to gelato and tacos, there’s plenty to look forward to at this year’s bigger-than-ever Veggie Fest.


As if the promise of delicious morsels from some of Richmond’s most well-loved restaurants and food trucks wasn’t enough, the Vegetarian Festival will have more than just food–it also seeks to promote the positive impact of vegetarianism for health, animal welfare, and the environment. There will be cooking demos providing info via speakers on how to prepare yummy veggie dishes at home. There will also be multiple animal rescue organizations on-site, where folks can meet with pets available for adoption and, of course, music and entertainment for the whole family. For kids this year, the Veggie Fest will have a scavenger hunt, yoga demos, and an obstacle course.

The Vegetarian Festival started out as – and continues to be – a labor of love. Founder Chris Patterson brought together a small group of dedicated people to spread awareness of all the benefits of vegetarianism in a fun and friendly environment. Now, the event has become one of the most well-attended Vegetarian Festivals in the country. And according to Lori Gardner, the event’s media coordinator, this feat is in no small part due to the tremendous efforts of volunteers and the support of the Richmond community.

Give me folky music, a fresh spring roll, and a spot under a shade tree to peoplewatch and scratch my pup’s belly.

“To me, the best part about the Vegetarian Festival is, hands down, the people. There are over 70 volunteers, many of whom give countless hours to make it happen. But also the people that attend the festival. It’s a diverse group of folks that come to the Vegetarian Festival, including many non-vegetarians. There is truly something for everyone,” says Gardner. “People come for a variety of reasons, but a common thread is that everyone seems so happy and has so much fun! It’s a joy to be a part of.”

I couldn’t agree more. There’s a lot to love about this outdoor, summer festival.

It’s hard to put into words but the Festival just seems…kinder than many other food-themed festivals I’ve attended. There’s something very enticing to me about not being surrounded by stumbling, shoving individuals inebriated with cheap beer and bacon fat. Give me folky music, a fresh spring roll, and a spot under a shade tree to peoplewatch and scratch my pup’s belly.

Sound like a good way to spend your Saturday afternoon? Then I hope you’ll join me in celebrating all things veggie at RVA’s only festival dedicated to proving that Richmond loves its leafy greens.

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Abby Waller

Abby Waller has lived in Richmond most of her life. She adores the gritty city and through her blog she attempts to capture its quirks and awesomeness.

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