I was soooo impressed with the “first-ever” Kale-a-Rama Festival that was a major happening recently in Roosevelt Center, I had to find out who or what was behind it. Here’s what I found out via organizer Cam MacQueen.
Who Made it Happen
There were four organizers of the event, all vegans and active the animal rights community. First Baltimore’s Javier de la Camara (of Vegan Fitness) had the idea. Joining him and doing a large share of the work was Bob Pyle, a musician from Ellicott City who carries the vegan messages to kids through his music. Bob imagined a Kale-a-Rama modeled after the successful Garlic Festival in California (now in its 35th year!) Bob was introduced to Cam, who suggested he check out the Roosevelt Center as a venue for the festival and Bob declared it the perfect spot and “the rest is kalestory,” as I was told. The fourth organizer was graphic designer Reagan Kimball, who created the logo, organic t-shirt, program and roadway banners. Reagan and Terri Rutledge also created a new permanent for the New Deal Cafe noting that vegan options are available. Cam was the “token Greenbelter” among the organizers.
- A celebration of community, cultural diversity, veganism and all things kale-tastic!! Attendance is estimated to be at least 1,000.
- “Kale-luscious vegan food”- kale donuts, kale smoothies, kale pate, kale non-dairy ice cream, the exciting debut of Everlasting Life’s Vegan Food Truck, and more “yummie goodness”!
- Incredible bands & vegan performers like Bushmaster Blues featuring Gary Brown, Christina van Norman & the Kale-tastics, Chris Colvin on Didgeridoo, Rakhel Israel professional drummer and the many drummers who showed up to participate in perhaps the first-ever vegan drum circle in the Center.
- City Council member Konrad Herling, noting that the festival attracted many who’d never been to Greenbelt before, called it a terrific example of economic development for the town. “In my 60 years of living in Greenbelt, I have never been to a more culturally diverse gathering of people in Greenbelt,” he proclaimed at a recent Council meeting.
Cam says: “Absolutely!” and the organizers have lots of ideas for making it bigger and better. Like adding mini-farmers market, selling kale plants, having additional vegan food vendor and vegan exhibitors, kids’ activities, and more surprises!
Proving that it takes a village to make a successful festival, the organizers asked me to thank all these folks: Erin Marcus, Open the Cages Alliance in Baltimore wrote about the event for Pathways Magazine. Some generous donors and great sponsors who enabled the festival to offer the opportunity to vendors at no charge. (The organizers also pitched in out-of-pocket.) The City of Greenbelt for promoting the festival and assigning its public works crew to help, Council Member Konrad Herling (he’s thanked for his “kale-mitment” to the fest). New Deal Cafe (“the comrades there were so wonderfully supportive and enthusiastic”) especially Terri Rutledge who promoted the festival online and in the cafe and was our liaison, also Dorian Winterfeld, Amethyst Dwyer, Tim Howe, and John Cooper (who handled sound for the festival) and Chefs Karim and Maria prepared two delicious vegan kale dishes that were a huge hit! The News Review helped promote the festival, Generous Joe’s let the crew wash the donated kale used to demonstrate solar cooking, and the Co-op stored the kale, which was donated by Calvert Farm & Pam Stegall. George Moore loaned the festival tables and chairs from the Fire Department and Rescue Squad.
Is Veganism the Next Big Thing?
So all this vegan activity has got me wondering if veganism is going mainstream – I mean even Bill Clinton is a vegan! (And reportedly feeling better than ever.) Of course living in Greenbelt, my impression may be skewed by the abundance of vegan choices and the monthly vegan event at the New Deal (Reel and Meal), but who knows? The pro-vegan movie “Forks over Knives” that was a Reel and Meal selection not long ago was sure convincing. Those kale donuts were pretty convincing, too.
The line was long for the food truck.
Photos by yours truly and the Kale-a-Rama Facebook page.