Vegetarian fairs and festivals 2013

If you’re starting to think about where you might go on your holidays this year, why not plan a trip to some of these veggie fairs and festivals, which are taking place all over the UK throughout 2013.

March

March 16 – 17. Brighton VegFest is back and it’s bigger and better than ever. Expect to find more than 120 stalls spread across three floors. There will be cookery classes, live music, free nutritional advice and even speed dating.

March 23. Evesham Vegan Fair looks set to be a much smaller and more intimate affair. Organised by Midlands Vegan Campaigns, the fair will offer 20 stalls with vegan cosmetics, recipe books and Easter eggs, as well as cookery demos and talks.

April

April 13. Northern Vegan Festival will take place in Manchester on April 13. Visitors will find 90 vegan stalls, selling vegan chocolate, clothing and gifts, as well as children’s activities, films and a talk on eating out in the north of England.

Vegan cupcake stall

Vegan cupcake stall

May

May 24 – 25. VegFestUK will return to Bristol for its 10th anniversary. More than 120 stalls will celebrate every aspect of a vegan lifestyle, from food to fashion. There will also be live music, films and entertainment.

August

August 3 – 17. Vegan Camp has been running in Cornwall for 32 years. Individuals, couples and families are invited to visit for a day or stay for the full two weeks. Communal meals, camp fires and picnics make this a unique event.

October

October 5 – 6. The dates have been confirmed for a huge new show in London at the world-famous Kensington Olympia. VegFest London will offer comedy and music, alongside all the essential stalls and demonstrations.

December

December 8. You may not be thinking about Christmas just yet, but the Christmas Vegan Fayre in London’s Kensington Town Hall is a definite date for the diary. Organised by Animal Aid, the event will showcase everything you need for perfect meat-free festivities.

Photo: Binary Ape

Riverside Community Market Association

Vegetable stall at Riverside market

Vegetable stall at Riverside market

Riverside market has, for many, become an integral part of Cardiff life. What better way to spend a Sunday morning than enjoying a leisurely coffee on the Fitzhamon Embankment?

But with recent reports that fruit and vegetable consumption by low-income families has fallen by 30 per cent, how is the Riverside Community Market Association (RCMA) coping with current financial and commercial pressures?

Preconceptions

Gareth Simpson, Enterprise Development Manager for the RCMA, said: “People have a lot of preconceptions about our markets. Many think it’s beyond their means, but actually, buying fresh produce directly from the traders can be cheaper than going to a supermarket.”

He added: “It’s never been about trying to get people to do their weekly shop at the market, but if more people thought about buying some of their fruit and vegetables from our stall holders on a regular basis, it would make a whole world of difference.”

Social enterprise

Although Gareth has only been working for the RCMA since last May, the social enterprise has been running since 1998, when the Riverside Real Food Market was first launched. Since then, the project has expanded, and now runs farmers’ markets in Llandaff North, Rhiwbina and Roath, as well as co-ordinating the Riverside community allotment and a variety of outreach projects.

Gareth said: “The aim is to bring the countryside to the city. Many people have never had the chance to grow their own vegetables and we are trying to spread the message of growing in a fun way. The community allotment allows people to get their hands in the mud and really get involved.”

Weather dependent

However, as with all outdoor events, the markets are highly weather dependent.  Gareth said: “Footfall suffers in the driving rain.” At present, there is little shelter at the market, but he is hoping to introduce a covered area for live music.

“I always try to create a buzz at the markets,” he said. “It’s not about just filling your shopping bag, it’s very much a social event.” Recently, Gareth created a buskers’ corner at Riverside Market, which gives local musicians the chance to show off their talent and entertain the crowd.

Innovative

The RCMA also tries to bring a wide variety of products to the markets. Gareth said: “We avoid putting similar stalls together, so new products have to be quite innovative. We don’t like to turn people away, but sometime we have to. A little competition can be a good thing.”

Two new stalls have recently joined the Riverside market. Greens of Glastonbury is a traditional farmhouse cheesemaker, while cnwd is based near Carmarthen and produces patés and terrines.

For more information, visit the RCMA website.

Live music at Riverside Market

Riverside Market

Riverside Market

Thegreenveggie has always been a big fan of the Riverside Market and thought that enjoying some tasty food on the banks of the Taff already made for a pretty good Sunday morning. But things are about to get even better..!

Starting from this weekend, joining the abundance of stalls, will be Buskers’ Corner. Adding to the already buzzing atmosphere, Buskers’ Corner will give local musicians the chance show off their talent and entertain the crowds.

Gareth Simpson, Enterprise Development Manager for the Riverside Community Market Association, said: “Musicians, entertainers and choirs can have a free platform to perform  in exchange for entertaining the market crowd. I always want the markets to be an “event” and to help any local talent have a chance to perform.”

This weekend, Cardiff-based folk band Tylwyth Teg will be playing an acoustic set. The eight-piece band have an eclectic sound, with influences ranging from traditional Welsh folk songs to heavy metal!

We can’t wait to get our dancing shoes on…! Find out more.

Veggie fairs and festivals 2012

It’s shaping up to be a great year for veggie fairs and festivals. With exciting stalls, fantastic demonstrations and a whole range of freebies on offer, don’t miss out! Here’s thegreenveggie’s pick of the best…

February

Kicking off on February 4, we start with The Viva! Incredible Veggie Show in Cambridge. Whether you’re thinking of turning veggie or have been vegan your whole life, this show will have something for you. Be inspired by cookery demonstrations, sample some tasty morsels and discover a myriad of stalls. What’s more, it won’t cost you a penny.

Then prepare to get loved up in Croydon for the Veggie Valentine Fair on February 11. Offering a wide range of vegan and Fairtrade beauty, health and wellbeing gifts, this will be the perfect place to find a thoughtful gift for your valentine. Plus, all profits will go to Animal Aid and Macmillan Cancer Care.

March

Why not head to sunny Brighton in March for the two-day extravaganza that is Brighton VegFest. Taking place from March 17 – 18, this festival is a celebration of all things vegan. Stalls, campaign groups, info, demonstrations, performances, passion and positive energy – find it all here (with some freebies to boot!) We’re particularly intrigued by the Great Sausage Tasting Competition…

Food fair

Food fair

May

Make tracks to Lancaster for the West Lancashire Vegan Fair on May 12. The event promises to be bigger and better than ever, with plenty of stalls, talks, films, free samples and live music.

Then get ready for National Vegetarian Week – the biggest veggie event of the year. The event will kick off with Meat Free in Manchester and will run from May 21 – 27. National Vegetarian Week is the UK’s annual awareness-raising campaign, promoting yummy vegetarian cooking and the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle.

Vegetarian Week will reach Cardiff on May 21, with the Cardiff Vegetarian Festival. This festival is returning for its third year and promises an enticing line-up of caterers and entertainment. They’re recruiting volunteers now, so if you’re a musician or photographer, or just want to be part of things on the day, get in touch pronto.

And then, prepare for The Return of the VegFest, with Bristol VegFest, which runs from May 25 – 27. So for all those herbivores who missed out in Brighton, make a beeline for Bristol and get in on the action! We can’t wait for the Ready Steady Cook competition. That and the crazy golf…!

So that’s it for now, but events are being announced all the time, so watch this space!

If you’re holding a veggie event that you would like to see featured on the site, please email: thegreenveggie@gmail.com or tweet: @thegreenveggie.

video: viva! Incredible veggie roadshow, photo: Lee McCoy

Riverside Real Food Market

Vegetable stall at Riverside Real Food Market

I won’t lie, I wasn’t entirely keen to get up early on a miserable, grey Sunday morning. And neither was I feeling too enthusiastic about the mile-long walk through the drizzle. My friend, who was nursing a rather nasty hangover, was even less enthusiastic than me.

However, I’d heard such good things about the Riverside Real Food Market, I was determined to go and find out what it could offer a hungry vegetarian.

Riverside Community Market Association

Riverside Real Food Market

The market nestles on the western bank of the River Taff, in the shadow of Cardiff’s imposing Millennium Stadium. It runs from 10am until 2pm every Sunday and offers around 30 stalls.

The market is run by the Riverside Community Market Association and was started in 1998 by a group of local food enthusiasts. Since then, it has continued to expand, attracting both locals and visitors. A recent survey showed that more than 1600 people attend the market on a typical Sunday.

Suzanne Olsen, Site Manager, said: “Visitor numbers took a dive during the recession, but they are recovering now. People are realising that fresh and organic food is not as expensive as they thought.”

The first thing we noticed was the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the market. The stall holders are passionate about their work and will take the time to explain exactly where they source their ingredients and how they make their products.

The Parsnipship

The Parsnipship

When it came to vegetarian stalls, we were spoilt for choice. We started by wandering over to the The Parsnipship, a co-operative that prides itself on offering 21st century vegetarian cuisine. The collective was founded by Ben Moss in 2009 and recruits and trains vegetarian cooks to run their own businesses, by cooking and selling locally sourced, seasonal food at farmers’ markets.

Ben said: “Our aim is to change the perception of vegetarian and vegan cooking in this country.” He added: “80% of our customers are not vegetarian or vegan, but they are changing their eating habits from carnivore at least a couple of times a week.”

I tried a spinach and potato cake, which was absolutely delicious. It was beautifully browned on top and the spinach was very tender and fresh. The care of presentation and the combination of herbs made a very simple recipe into something really special.

The Cardiff Herb Company

Cardiff Herb Company

Next, we headed to the Cardiff Herb Company, which sells a range of organic herbs and herbal teas.The company grows all of its fresh-cut herbs and herb plants in both Cardiff and St Hilary, South Wales, and donates 10% of its profits to the Canton Community Garden.

Victoria Welles, who runs the company, said: “I love my job. I get to spend my days planting and picking herbs. It’s very physical work, but it’s a great lifestyle.”

I tried a sample of rose tea, which contained rose petals, vanilla pods and rosehips. The tea had a delicate, fragrant scent and a light and subtle flavour. Elena bought a pack of “Awake” tea, which contains elderflower, lime and peppermint and is designed to be energising, fresh and clean. Maybe this will help us through our 9 o’ clock lectures…

All-vegan

Frantastic Crepes

With our palettes cleansed, we couldn’t resist the alluring smell of veggie burgers and made our way over to the all-vegan Frantastic Crepes. The stall is run by a wonderfully bubbly woman called Fran Munro, who makes a mean veggie burger! All of her products are locally sourced and freshly made. I tried a black-eyed bean burger, which had a delicious combination of spices and was served with a tangy homemade chutney.

As if that wasn’t enough to entice you to the stall, Fran has made us a kind offer and says anyone who quotes thegreenveggie when they buy a bean burger will be given a free Welsh cake (which I can thoroughly recommend!)

Fresh and healthy

Riverside market stall

After my early morning reluctance to get out of bed, I left the market feeling contented with life, and Elena’s hangover had been miraculously cured. I would entirely recommend a trip to the Riverside Real Food Market. It will give you that warm, fuzzy glow inside, knowing that you’re buying fresh, healthy food and supporting the local economy, but most importantly, it’s just plain tasty!