Unexpected adventures occurred today when I went to Baltimore’s first Vegan Soul Fest at 401 N. Howard Street. Farmers were selling fresh veggies and the variety of vegan dishes and the multitude of booths selling them was astounding, although maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised at that.
I’m used to going to festivals where there is maybe one booth selling something I can eat. If I’m lucky, I’ll find, two. Half the time I end up walking past the booths and going to a local restaurant. And I’m not even vegan. I’m vegetarian and really only borderline vegetarian, at that.
But today at the Vegan Soul Fest, I was overwhelmed by the quantity of vegan food available.
My mouth is watering now, thinking about it.
It was a challenge to decide what to eat. By the time I got the festival, in the late afternoon, the quinoa salad was gone, so that helped. There was a tempting vegan lasagna that happened to be one of the best looking lasagnas I’d seen in my life. There was curry tofu in what appeared to be, but couldn’t have been, creamy orange sauce. There were black beans and rice. One booth was selling vegan French toast – at 3:30 in the afternoon. Another booth was hawking cashew “cheese” cake and despite my brain cringing at the name and my shoulders shuddering at the thought, the thing looked like the dessert of a lifetime and I was sure I was sold until I observed it was made with cashews. I have nothing against cashews. In fact, I love them to death. But something about cashews in cake was freaking me out just a tiny bit. I may need to get over this. Something tells me it was probably delish.
Due to the savory sensory overload I decided to wander around a bit.
And here is where the real surprise hit. Someone asked me if I wanted to hula hoop. Alexis Cornell was working at a hula hoop stand so she had a vested interest in the answer. How a hula hoop stand fit in at a vegan festival, though, I wasn’t quite sure. I guess maybe they could roll in sideways, unnoticed, but these hula hoops were colorfully decorated with all types of designer duct tape. Still, I had tried hula hooping at the age of three, four, five, six, seven and eight with very little luck. The thing always dropped to the ground after a mere three hip swivels – every single time, for five years. So I opened my mouth to say no but for some reason I said okay.
And I ended up getting my first hula hoop lesson ever. It took me two minutes to learn.
Where had this woman been all my life?
So I tried five different hula hoops in five different shapes, sizes and colors. Shopping had never been so fun. Whenever I was stressed about making a decision I just spun a hula hoop around my middle and worked it off. Finally I decided on a yellow one with graffiti-style tape. It was a city festival so I thought it made a good souvenir. And it was okay because it was a serious piece of workout equipment only masquerading as a silly children’s toy. And it would be a good way to work off the vegan lasagna when I worked my way back.
So I hooked my new hula hoop to my backpack and wandered around some more. I hadn’t even make it inside yet. The festival wound its way around three sides of a building which contained vendors selling handmade body products, lunch bags and t-shirts. I also passed a ton of vegan desserts including vegan non-cashew cheesecake.
My eyes were torn away from all these goodies, though, when I discovered my new hula hoop was missing. Aghast, I stared at the empty space next to my backpack. I looked away and looked back three separate times, just to be sure. Yes, my hula hoop was certainly gone.
I retraced my steps. I asked every vendor I passed if anyone had turned in a hula hoop. I had no luck anywhere.
The sun was setting. People were packing up. I was racing against time.
Finally I made it back to the Hula Hoop Booth and told the Hula Hoop Help what happened to me. She helped me look, too.
We checked everywhere, under darkening skies, to no avail.
Finally, we found a little girl who had seen my hula hoop lying on the ground.
“Where did you see it after that?” I asked.
“A little boy had it,” she said. The girl looked about nine so the boy must have been really small.
We guessed that was that.
Even if I found the little boy, could I really take his new hula hoop away from him? What would his mother say? “Son, give the nice mean lady back her children’s toy! You know how mature, self respecting individuals need their fun!”
I got my next hula hoop at half price. It was orange and leopard-print. I guess this was where the vegan came in, since there was no way that hula hoop was decorated with real leopard skin.
I added to the design with some leftover graffiti tape and discovered that hula hoops are actually more fun when you decorate them yourself. In any event, I was more attached to it. Or at least it was more attached to me.
I can tell because I still have it – four hours later. And I intend to keep it for the rest of my life, which, if I eat right, may be a very long time.
The last minute kale salad, curried cauliflower and hemp veggie burger I ate at the end of the Vegan Soul Fest should help with that.
But next year I’ll get to the Baltimore Vegan Soul Fest early so I can have a hearty healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner, a substantial amount of hula hoop time and a large margin of era for any unexpected adventures.