One of the venues we were cautiously optimistic about when location scouting in Chicago was the Field Museum. We assumed it would be outrageously out of our price range, and it was (for now), but it was a beautiful spot and inspired a few new ideas.
In addition to scouting out event venues at the Field Museum, we also found a…PHOTOBOOTH! And you know what we do when one of those comes across our path.
The three of us took a trip to Chicago last Fall, where we scouted a few locations for potential future events and timed it so we could attend Veganmania.
Chicago Veganmania was the place where we met Black Metal Chef AND Miyoko Schinner, so based on those two facts alone it was pretty great. We also saw some of our favorite Chicago faves: The Snarky Vegan, Kelly Peloza and Dan & Nicole from Uptons. There was a pretty good Portland showing too, with Herbivore and Food Fight representing Portland’s OG vegan mini-mall.
The organizers of Veganmania put together a great event for Chicago–and beyond–vegans and veg-curious, and we loved taking it all in. It’s wonderful that there’s so much support of one another in the vegan community, and the three of were grateful for the opportunity to support the hard work and great show that was Veganmania 2012.
So…our first location-scouting trip to Chicago was in the dead of winter. Why? This was when we could all take time off work and hotels and airfare were crazy cheap. Because who wants to go to Chicago in the dead of winter?! Falling-ice warnings around skyscrapers, slush puddles, doing the cold dance while waiting for the L—all right, I’ll admit the cold dance is pretty entertaining. (NOTE: Don’t worry; when we do hold an event in Chicago, it will not be in January or February.)
Ah, but in this frigid, frigid land there was an oasis: the biggest Whole Foods we’d ever seen. Ladies, grab your cameras!
We spent close to two hours photographing Upton’s Naturals grab-n-go sandwiches and Chicago Diner cookies, sipping bubbly at one of two wine bars, choosing snacks for our flight home, and downing vegan Chicago-style hot dogs and soy milkshakes. Because that’s precisely what three bloggers do when they check out a new grocery store. While we know how ridiculous it must look to normal people, we simply can’t help ourselves. How else are we going to tell the Internet all about it?
Honestly, the rest of trip was pretty cool too. We got to check out a bunch of neato spaces, eat pizza, and meet up with Snarky Vegan, Marla from Chicago VeganMania, the Upton’s duo of Dan and Nicole, and Ms. Kelly Peloza—and they’re worth a few frozen toes.
Happy VeganMoFo 2012 Kick-Off, everyone!
We don’t have a single theme (oh, by the way, did you notice our new theme?!), but we’re gonna have theme days. In preparation/celebration of our Seattle Tech Seminar, we’re diving in to blogging tech (mostly). We’ll have tech tips brought to you by people way smarter than us, Seattle funspots, speaker spotlights, Food-Friday Fundays…and once a week, we’ll have a Q&A day.
Q&A? Yes, so we need some Qs! Shoot us your questions and we’ll dig around/ask around to get you the answers! Tweet at us, throw it up on the Facebook page, or email us at VidaVeganConference [at] gmail [dot] com.
But before we get started, we just wanted to give you a glimpse into our weekend! We’re in Chicago for location scouting and VeganMania, Chicago’s vegan-only veg fest, with vendors, nonprofits, a hefty food court (featuring Chicago Diner, Upton’s, and Native Foods as well as a lot of smaller restaurants and bakeries), and classes. Check out the crowd shot:
We all went to Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese demo, where we tried some of the quicker, unaged cheeses, including ricotta-stuffed shells and a next-to-instant but tasty nacho cheese. I’ve never seen so many people get super excited to try vegan cheesemaking before. It looks like this book is actually worth the hype. I know what I’m doing when I get back home to Portland.
You’ve all been so good and (mostly) patient while we figured out which city will host the next Vida Vegan Con. Well, a lot of emails, tours, and meetings later, we are super excited to tell you the locations of our next TWO conferences:
May 2013: Portland, OR
Yes, we are returning to Portland for our sophomore conference. We found a fantastic, new location that we all instantly fell in love with—we toyed with announcing the name, but we haven’t signed the contract yet. You understand. It’s bigger than last year’s space, so we’ll be able to fit more of you and our favorite exhibitors! Plus some extras we’ve been brewing up ideas for, like a lounge area or work center.
As soon as we sign the contracts, we’ll give you a date and get ready to open registration. Just like last time, we’ll put together travel info and direct you to the best lodging deals, including dorm possibilities. We know a lot of you made longer vacations of the last VVC and will do our best to extend those special room-block prices. So stay tuned for more! And if you’d like to submit a speaker proposal, do it here before May 1, 2012.
August 2014: Chicago, IL
On our scouting trip in January, we knew we had to hold a conference here. We didn’t find the perfect spot yet, so the scouting will continue for VVC III! If you’re in Chicago and have suggestions, let us know. We’ll be taking another trip out there before too long.
Last hinty bit of newsy hints: One-day concentrated seminars comin’ up! We’re planning a small, single-day, concentrated blogging/social networking tech seminar for this November and a vegan business one for March 2014. They will be held in different cities, and neither of them will be in Portland or Chicago. Take away one tease, lay on another, right? We hope it’s more intriguing than frustrating.
Also coming up for local folks: On April 22, Earth Day, Vida Vegan is partnering with BridgePort Brewpub to bring you an exquisitely spring-themed vegan coursed dinner.
The menu will include fresh and lively dishes made with BridgePort beers (yup, they’re vegan-friendly microbrews), and a portion of all ticket sales will go to a local animal sanctuary.
More details, the final menu and a link to ticket sales will be announced in late March/early April. Check out the Facebook event here, and save the date.
All in all, we can’t wait to see you all again!
We know January and February in Chicago can be brutal, but that’s when we had time to go and that’s when we could afford to go, so that’s when we went, and you know what, we loved it!
Michele was lucky enough to grow up there, but for Jess and Janessa, this was a first look (and feel!) of the Windy City. We packed up our boots and gloves and headed to Chi-town to see if it has what it takes to host a few hundred vegan bloggers for a weekend.
We met up with friends, old and new…
And we ate!
The verdict? Chicago definitely has what it takes to embrace us and keep us busy. We saw a lot of cool spaces, ate a lot of comfort food (some good, some bad, some awesome), and even found a tattoo artist who uses vegan inks.
The holdup? We’re looking to bring you an even better, more polished event for 2013 and are honestly a little nervous about holding our sophomore conference so far away. Chicago’s a little more expensive than Portland, and we have a smaller pool of friends and family to beg, borrow, and steal from. We know we can do it…but we also can’t afford to lose our day jobs. We have a bunch to talk about before making a final decision, but we’re planning for a March 15th announcement, after a couple more meetings.
You know either way, Portland or Chicago, it’s gonna be a blast. It wouldn’t be so surprising if we went with one for 2013 and another for VVC3. So, see you somewhere May 2013!