By Natalie Evans
After recently working a booth for The Vegetarian Resource Group at a fair in Baltimore with our daughter and seeing the expressed interest of the public, I thought it only fair to try to help get The VRG fever spreading south! County fairs in Southern Maryland consist of tractor pulls, quilt competitions, baked goods, farm animals and of course dogs – that is, hot dogs!
When I initially contacted the liaison for the rental space he asked what business I was with so that he could place us accordingly. When I told him I was a volunteer for The VRG, he said “Hmmm, never heard of them, but I do know we have lots of vegetable eaters down here.” Immediately, I thought we had an in! The fair houses a commercial building where vendors can advertise to the public with free samples, magnets, pens and raffles. As we were setting up our table on Thursday night, worry set in as the table across from us was a Cake Shop with free samples. We had a basket of fresh vegetables on display but not for sampling, the competition was on!
With that in mind the fellow vegans and vegetarians were pleasantly surprised to see The VRG display. Along with the smiles and excitement we were also met by raised eyebrows from the local cattle and chicken farmers who got a laugh at removing the “Don’t” from the “Be kind to animals don’t eat them” bumper sticker. One local wanted to know if we could put a food stand up since the only food offered at the fair was mainly meat. This led to many interesting conversations. We learned of local farms who offer organic CSA’s to others sharing when to uproot sweet potatoes and what fall crop should be planted. Many shared their health improvement since switching to plant based diets.
To our surprise, based on the visitors who stopped at the booth to either gain information or share, all had one frequent comment, “Wow, this is exciting to see!” With limited resources in the rural area, many were excited to learn about VRG. Some took time to look through recipe books, while others signed up for The VRG email list or subscribed to the journal. We encouraged them to add their name to a sheet to form a local group of vegetarians and vegans.
Of all of the vendors distributing information at this fair, I left feeling that we had won the competition I had set that Thursday night. The visitors to The VRG were fed a wealth of information. We may not have been giving out sweet treats but I am certain that what we gave out will have a positive impact! We are hopeful that we can continue to spread the word throughout the community to help those who are interested~ thank you VRG for letting us help you help others!
If you would like to to volunteer in St. Mary’s Country Maryland, or do outreach booths in other parts of the country, please e-mail VRG’s outreach coordinator Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.