July 21, 2024

Veg Fest is coming to Southern Oregon

Olive the mini-donkey is one of Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary’s regal and enthusiastic greeters. Midge Raymond photo
June 3, 2023

Celebration of compassion for animals, as well as plant-based foods, coming to Phoenix on June 11

By Midge Raymond

Move over, Portland — Southern Oregon now has a Veg Fest of its own.

Vegetarian and vegan festivals — celebrations of compassion for animals as well as plant-based foods and products — are held all over the world, most commonly in major metropolitan areas. According to the American Vegan Society, the original veg festival was created by the Toronto Vegetarian Association in 1985, and Boston held its first festival a decade later. Now there are dozens around the world, from Australia to Estonia, and in 36 of the United States, including Oregon.

Southern Oregon’s first-ever Veg Fest — to be held 15 minutes from Ashland at Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary (TOFS) at 460 Hartley Road in Phoenix — is the first in the Rogue Valley and currently the only veg fest in Oregon, with the Portland festival on hiatus due to COVID-19. The SO Veg Fest will take place from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 11.

Unlike the large indoor Portland festival, the SO Veg Fest will be held outdoors at a local sanctuary, bringing the community together in a way that is more intimate than typical big-city veg fests.

“Ever since we started Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary, we have wanted to create opportunities for our local community to come together,” said Hadassah DeJack-Reynolds, founder and executive director of TOFS. “Having TOFS as the venue for our region’s first veg fest allows us to gather humans and animals together to celebrate life, compassion and the beautiful area we all live in.”

Veg Fest
When: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 11
Where: Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary, 460 Hartley Road, Phoenix
Cost: Free
Parking: Free and available onsite
(For the safety of the sanctuary animals, please leave your companion animals at home)
Southern Oregon Veg Fest:

SO Veg Fest is designed to be a family event. For the kids, there will be face painting, hay rides, and a bounce house; for the grown-ups, there will be cooking demos, live music, and a beer garden hosted by Portal Brewing. For all, there will be a chance to meet the sanctuary’s animals and hear their stories.

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. TOFS has come to the aid of animals throughout the region, including Ashland.

Visitors on June 11 will be greeted by the exuberant cry of Gandalf the peacock, followed by a cacophony of roosters. Another vocal and enthusiastic greeter is Olive, one of the sanctuary’s two mini donkeys, whose persistent call can reach visitors in any part of the sanctuary’s nearly 10 acres.

In addition to Gandalf and Olive, the sanctuary provides a forever home for six goats, two sheep, two cows, two pigs, two ducks, three turkeys and dozens of chickens rescued from the meat and egg industries. Half-hour sanctuary tours will begin at noon and 2:30 p.m., offering a chance for visitors to meet the animals and learn about their lives.

Hay rides and live music will go on throughout the day, and more than 30 vendors, including Ashland artists and food makers, will share their goods. 

“We have a great lineup of vendors,” said Johanna Talley, who manages vendors for the SO Veg Fest committee, “from vegan cosmetics and food to vegan physicians and naturopaths, from vegan jewelry makers to vegan dojos. We’ll have several local nonprofits attending as well.”

As a vegan for more than 40 years, Maria DiMaggio of Ashland-based Higher Power Raw Foods is looking forward to Veg Fest. “I just love the lifestyle and being part of this community.”

DiMaggio’s products, from crackers to granola to cookies, are all organic and hand-crafted in small batches in Ashland. Among the products she’ll feature at Veg Fest are her popular crackers and kale chips, as well as a high-protein brownie made with heirloom organic chocolate from Ecuador. DiMaggio notes that Higher Power’s sweet treats are made with dates or coconut sugar and contain no fillers. When sampling her foods, “I feel like I’m sinning,” she said with a laugh, “but everything we sell is nutrient dense.”

Gandalf the peacock greets sanctuary visitors with open feathers. John Yunker photo

Samples will be available at the Higher Foods booth, which will also offer three superfood-rich granolas as well as plant-based burgers, falafel, and sausage.

Another vendor is Amber Soltz, founder of Ashland’s Luna Love plant shop. Soltz, who holds a degree in environmental science, said, “I’ve always had a passion for the environment, which is why I went vegan.” She’s also always had an affinity for plants. “The emotional well-being I feel from being around plants and taking care of them is magical.” Her booth will feature a variety of plant species as well as ceramic pots and wall planters.

Other vendors include jewelry makers Fera Fox of Ashland and Finding Me Clay Co., and nonprofit animal organizations Southern Oregon Animal Advocates and FOTAS.

Also at Veg Fest will be new vegan food truck The Wild Sunflower, and music by DJ Tuffshed, with sound systems provided by Rockafairy, a nonprofit providing an instrument library, artistic collaboration space, private rehearsal space, and a public event center to musicians in the valley.

Raffle tickets benefitting the sanctuary will offer a chance to win SO Veg Fest and TOFS merchandise, and a silent auction featuring paintings, photography, gift cards, and other items will also benefit TOFS.

Author and Ashland resident Midge Raymond is co-founder of the boutique publisher Ashland Creek Press (a Veg Fest vendor), and a volunteer at Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary (TOFS).

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