ashland.news
June 14, 2024

Southern Oregon’s second annual VegFest on Sunday in Phoenix

Hazel and Olive, mini-donkeys who will greet VegFest visitors on June 9. Midge Raymond photo
June 3, 2024

Summer day in the country features sanctuary animals, plant-based food, live music, kids’ activities and more 

By Midge Raymond for Ashland.news

Last year’s first-ever Southern Oregon VegFest attracted more than 2,000 visitors to Phoenix’s  Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary (TOFS), and Hadassah DeJack-Reynolds, TOFS founder and executive director, anticipates another busy festival this year on Sunday, June 9. 

“We’re growing the festival this year, with more vendors and more activities for kids and families,” she says. “We hope people will return for more of what they enjoyed last year, and for those joining us for the first time, this year there’s even more to discover.” 

Just 15 minutes from Ashland, VegFest will be held from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, June 9, at 460 Hartley Road in Phoenix. The event is a fundraiser for TOFS — donation boxes and Venmo QR codes will be available throughout the festival — but admission is free, as are the activities, which include yoga classes, sanctuary animal tours, hay rides, a children’s craft corner, a bounce house, face painting, lawn games and much more.

Thing was found walking the streets of Ashland. He is now one of the dozens of rescued chickens visitors will meet at VegFest on June 9. John Yunker photo

This year VegFest will host more than 50 vendors, from sustainable clothing and jewelry makers to animal advocates to local nonprofits and business owners.

Ariel Israea of Ahimsa Integrative Bodywork in Ashland was at last year’s VegFest and is glad to be returning again this year. “It was a wonderful environment to be in — you’re out in the open air, and there are animals, there’s natural beauty. Everyone was having a really good time.” 

Israea’s work focuses on therapeutic massage and structural integration, which is an advanced, specific form of myofascial work aimed at creating lasting change in the structural balance in the body to maximize comfort, ease and freedom of movement. “In my particular practice, I have a real emphasis on supporting and giving back to my community,” Israea says. “VegFest has some of those same aims as far as serving our community and serving kindness.”

At her VegFest booth, Israea will be offering chair massage at $10 for 10 minutes. “As a body worker, part of how people can know whether my work is going to work for them is by trying it. So for a very small amount, people can get a feel for what it’s like to receive a little of my work and to see whether it might be a fit for them.” 

Live music will play at VegFest throughout the day, and Talent’s Trium Wines and Medford’s Walkabout Brewing Company will offer wine and beer gardens. The plant-based food options include the food trucks Siano’s Karibbean CookHouseToasted CheeseMahalo Shaved Ice, and many more. VegFest volunteer coordinator Tatiana Keen will offer pastries and other treats from her Medford-based bakery Plant Baked, and VegFest co-founder Johanna Talley will be sharing food from Drunken Goats Farm, a community-building supper club in Talent “where you get to interact with friendly goats and eat an abundance of tasty food that happens to be vegan.” 

Rescued goat Bendy of Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary likes to pose for visitors. Midge Raymond photo

Talley’s farm is called Drunken Goats “because they truly do drink alcohol,” Talley says. “I found out because they stole it out of my cup — they’ll drink wine and cider and beer.” At the monthly supper clubs Talley hosts, the goats are as much of a draw as the food: “A lot of people enjoy going in and being able to socialize and hang out with these very big, friendly goats.” 

Talley’s goats are rescues from dairy farms; Seebs had been a farm pet who needed a new home, and Piper, along with her two babies, came from a dairy farm where Piper kicked whenever she was milked. “And so she was due for ‘freezer camp’ — that means they were going to kill her, put her in a freezer and eat her,” Talley says. “The boy would’ve been sold off just to get rid of, with no consequences, and her daughter would’ve been turned into another dairy goat. And so I took all of them.”

Talley’s supper club began in July 2022 with nine guests, and by its first anniversary celebration, Talley seated more than 60. Most monthly dinners comprise about 35 people, and the cost is on a sliding scale so everyone has the opportunity to join. “We have several regulars who overpay without ever having been asked,” Talley says, “knowing that that helps supplement the discounted diners.”

Among Talley’s goals is to work with local nonprofits that align with Drunken Goats’ values to host fundraising events. This month, she is catering the Rogue Valley Street Dogs’ annual fundraiser in Medford on June 8.

As for VegFest, Drunken Goats will be serving Thai curry with rice as well as pasta primavera. “The focus is not only to share food but to get people interested in the supper club and to build our community.” 

Naomi is a rescued cow at Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary. John Yunker photo

Attendees will be able to learn more about the community’s nonprofits as well, including animal welfare groups like Friends of the Animals and Southern Oregon Animal Advocates, as well as organizations that focus on humans.  

Among these nonprofits is Ashland’s Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), now in its 20th year of helping survivors of violence, from sexual assault to domestic violence, through hospital services in Jackson and Josephine counties and by providing resources to trauma survivors. Jackson County SART also runs violence prevention programs in local schools, including prevention awareness and training for staff and for parents, and trainings in local businesses. 

VegFest deets
 
What: Southern Oregon VegFest hosted by Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary
Where: 460 Hartley Road, Phoenix, Oregon
When: 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Sunday, June 9, 2024

Admission & all activities are free
No pets/companion animals allowed 
Onsite parking is free
Accessible parking is available 
Do not feed the sanctuary animals

Co-founder and executive director Susan Moen hopes the organization’s presence at VegFest will help the community learn about the services offered “because most people will know someone who’s experienced this kind of violence, and we want them to know how to help,” she says. For example, many may not know that at the hospitals in Jackson and Josephine counties, “a survivor of sexual assault or domestic violence can show up, get a free exam, evidence collection if they want it — it’s 24/7, it’s free. And we have dedicated rooms and on-call providers, so people don’t have to wait in triage. If they show up, they get a private room right away, and everything’s free.” 

Jackson County SART also helps beyond these acute services. “We have a resource specialist whose whole job is to help survivors find resources. For someone in trauma, it’s really hard to go through all those hoops for finding therapy, drug and alcohol treatment, housing, financial assistance, crime victims’ compensation applications — there are so many things survivors can need help with. So basically whatever the survivor identifies as a need for them, we’re going to try and help.” 

VegFest is a good place to raise awareness, Moen says, and not only because “we know so many folks walking around are survivors and might not yet have a place of community or a place where they feel like they can talk to someone who gets it and make a connection and explore what their healing might benefit from.” 

In addition, there’s a lot of crossover with VegFest when it comes to anti-violence work and equity work. “In this particular space, there are a lot of like-minded folks and ideas,” Moen says. “It is a group of people who want to look at ways of creating a healthier community, look at ways of healing whatever types of violence are happening, whether it’s against people or against animals or against the earth. So it just feels like a common, welcoming space where people are going to be open to learning about ways to help each other and themselves.”

In fact, the sanctuary’s name, Tikkun Olam, means “repair the world” in Hebrew. Founded in 2018 by DeJack-Reynolds, TOFS is an LGBTQ-owned, 501(c)(3) organization that rescues abused, abandoned, neglected and unwanted farm animals and provides them with a forever home. 

Learn more about VegFest here.

Ashland resident Midge Raymond is a TOFS volunteer and co-founder of Ashland Creek Press, which will be a vendor at VegFest.

Picture of Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond

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