R.I.’s first vegan festival aims to draw #plantcurious

PROVIDENCE – Organizers of Rhode Island’s first vegan festival hope to draw about 80 vendors and crowds of up to 800 to the WaterFire Arts Center in Providence early next year.

RI VegFest, created by Jim Nellis of RI Food Fights and his business collaborator Robin Dionne, will bring together a mix of businesses, all with a focus on the vegan lifestyle.

Restaurants, food producers and vegan-friendly businesses, along with artists, authors, and beer and cocktail producers are expected to display their wares at the event, scheduled for 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Feb. 23, at the WaterFire Arts Center, 475 Valley St.

The vendor list so far features businesses from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, although a national nonprofit has expressed interest in the event, Dionne said.

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Alex Eaves, a Massachusetts vegan who has garnered national attention with his tiny truck and reputation as a reuse expert, will also be on hand.

Rhode Island vegan eateries The Grange, Wildflour Bakery, and The Garden Grille are sponsoring the one-day event.

Vendors must offer vegan products, be vegan-owned or be rooted in vegan culture to participate, but all attendees are welcome, Dionne, a longtime vegan, said.

VegFest is using the hashtag #plantcurious for promotion, a term that defines the crowd it is seeking to attract.

“We think this is a good opportunity to show the plant-based diet to people in Rhode Island,” Dionne said. “The more people know about this the less intimidating or weird it is. It’s not the scary world of tofu that it used to be.”

A series of kick-off events is planned ahead of VegFest, including a special vegan dinner at The Dorrance in Providence and a prixe fix dinner at Julian’s in Providence.

Tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-inaugural-ri-vegfest-tickets-66397888873.

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN staff writer. She can be reached at graham@pbn.com.