Grand Rapids VegFest is from 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 18 at the DeltaPlex Arena, 2500 Turner Ave. in Grand Rapids. Visit grvegfest.com for tickets and more information.

Before last year, the only VegFest in Michigan was in metro Detroit. That changed last year with the arrival of a similar event on the state’s west side.

Grand Rapids VegFest, returning Sept. 18 for its second year, is about “veganism and vegetarianism, healthy lifestyles, compassion for animals and conservation of the environment,” says co-organizer Kim Enochs.

Enochs started the expo in 2015 with friend Erica Wisniewski. Impressed with VegFest in Novi, which Enochs first attended about four years ago, she and Wisniewski decided to bring a similar event to their area. “Traveling two and a half hours is too much for some people,” Enochs says.

Enochs and Wisniewski, along with co-organizer Stephanie Albertson, work with about six other committed volunteers to plan and run VegFest, which is now under the umbrella of Plant-Based Solutions, a nonprofit organization. The organizers also partner with Grand Rapids Veg Meetup Group for events such as VegFest volunteer orientation.

The 2016 VegFest will feature food samples, cooking demonstrations, a variety of vendors with plant-based products, activities for children and guest speakers. This year’s speaker lineup comprises Will Tuttle, Ph.D.; Drs. Michael Klaper and Kristi Artz; Robert Grillo; and Elizabeth Olsen. Wellness expert Michele Fife will serve as master of ceremonies.

Wisniewski said last year’s festival was a success. “We were hoping for 500 visitors, and 1,500 people showed up,” she says.

Enochs says a lack of food options was the only major complaint from event-goers. This year, organizers plan to have more concessions. “We’ve been reaching out to vegan-friendly restaurants and food businesses in Grand Rapids and Michigan,” she says. Adding vendors is also a goal. The 2015 event showcased 50 vendors, and this year organizers are hoping for 80 to 100.

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