Chicago VeganMania, the Midwest’s largest all-vegan festival is returning to town on Saturday, September 29 from 10:00 – 5:00 at the Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway in the Edgewater neighborhood. There is no cost of admission. This is the fourth annual CVM, held for the first time at a bigger, more modern facility, right off the Thorndale stop of the Red line. (At the time I was writing this, the Thorndale stop of the El was still under construction, due to be finished the morning of Chicago VeganMania. If it’s not completed, get off at Bryn Mawr and walk a few blocks north on Broadway.)
CVM is a free celebration of vegan culture, commerce, community, couture and cuisine, with an emphasis on Chicago’s vibrant and diverse offerings. As in year’s past, there will be speakers, cooking demos, musical acts, panels, dozens of cruelty-free vendors and an all-vegan food court. This year, encompassing more than 22,000-square feet of pure vegan goodness, CVM is going to be everything it’s ever been but even grander in scale and in a more comfortable space.
From panels (like Building a Vegan Community) and speakers (like Ginny Kisch Messina and Victoria Moran) to cooking demos (featuring the likes of the Vegan Black Metal Chef and Miyoko Schinner) and a musical line-up at the Chicago VeganMania Culture Café, Chicago VeganMania will keep attendees as busy and informed as they want to be. Another exciting feature is a new one this year: an “Ask the Experts” table where people can go up and ask local experts specific questions on a variety of questions that change by the hour.
In addition to the programming, there will be dozens of diverse, cruelty-free vendors and Chicago’s biggest ever entirely vegan food court. In short, it’s going to be amazing. (Full disclosure: I am the co-founder of CVM. More disclosure: I can still tell you without any bias that it’s going to be incredible.)
Even though CVM is a celebration of vegan culture, commerce, community, cuisine and couture and we make no apologies for it, we are welcoming and inclusive to all. Here is a short interview with John Beske, co-founder of CVM. Oh, and my husband.
What are you most excited about this year for CVM?
John Beske: “I’m excited to show off our new currency, the V-Bucks. This is just one more way that people will really immerse themselves in the event. Also, just this new, huge space of the Broadway Armory and the size of the all-vegan food court with 14 different vendors just there. I’m also just pumped to see the Vegan Black Metal Chef, of course.”
What is the message you’d like people to get when they walk into the Broadway Armory? What is the impression you want them to walk away with at the end of the day?
John Beske: “We want people to be impressed and even a little awed by the event. I’d like people to leave feeling inspired and empowered.”
CVM started as a brainstorm at the old Balanced Kitchen almost five years ago. How is it different or similar to your original vision? Could you ever have imagined it growing into what it is today?
John Beske: “Well, I think it took a while for the vision to form. I think when we first did it, we just kept thinking of all these different ideas and trying them to see what would work. In the end, I think we’ve really at least met and I think exceeded our expectations. I’m pretty happy with how CVM has evolved.”
Why do you snore so loud and how do you not wake yourself up?
John Beske: “I’ve never known myself to snore.”
That’s your statement?
John Beske: “Well, yeah.”
Any parting words before we see you on September 29?
John Beske: “We advise you to come hungry. This is a chance to try all this kind of vegan food from all over the world and it’s all really delicious. Come expecting to have a great time.”
Hope to see you there!