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As the Birthday Week Princess, I decreed that we would spend Saturday late morning/early afternoon at the 4th Annual North Florida VegFest. Vegan vendors and educators from all across Florida gathered to celebrate all things vegan at Cascades Park here in Tallahassee. Unfortunately I have some health issues and dietary restrictions that preclude me from a full on vegan lifestyle, but I’m of the opinion that every vegan choice we make is a step in the right direction.
I got distracted on our walk from the parking lot and spent about five minutes crouched down taking pictures of the daffodils. I didn’t see one IRL until I was in college, and they still fascinate me. We didn’t get there early enough to secure a free swag bag, but we did manage to catch the vendors pretty much as soon as they opened. The first (and best) purchase I made was from Simply Scented Candles. Homemade, hand poured and metal free, these little guys smell divine, and their creator couldn’t be a nicer guy. We chatted for a bit as my friend and I smelled every last candle. Finally, after much debate, I selected a mini “Grapefruit” and “Watermelon” candle in honor of the warmer weather. The two close seconds were the “Cup of Joe” and the ” Citrus Coconut”. A few corporate vendors had set up tents offering samples, and after trying Peanut Broccoli Salad and some sugar free strawberry jam, my grocery list for the week got a bit longer. Finally, after much browsing, we made it over to the food tents. One of the first places I visited was Sweet Pea Cafe – they’re a local place and anytime I get the chance I HAVE to get a couple of their Green Tea Sugar Cookies. They are my favorite cookie of all time. Next door to them was the place I’ll be having my birthday dinner, Nefetari’s. They make a vegan mac and cheese that’ll curl the toes of even the most devout meat eater. Seriously. The real star for us though was an Ethiopian restaurant from Jacksonville called Ibex. I’ve only had Ethiopian food twice before, but you better believe that any time I am going to be near Jacksonville from now on, I am hitting this place up. Everything, and I do mean everything, on their sampler plate was incredible. Things that I don’t normally care for, like beets or greens, I couldn’t get enough of. I actually regret not getting food to take home with us. After loading up on far more food and beverages than we needed, we found a patch of grass near the amphitheater to enjoy our lunch and listen to some of the people who were presenting and performing. Afterwards, we walked around so I could make new furry friends. This may have been my favorite part of the festival. This last little girl completely stole my heart. She is a deaf, a tripod, and the sweetest soul you could ever hope to meet. I may have gotten a little teary after scratching her ears; she has so many disadvantages, but her human clearly adores her and takes excellent care of her. As a parent of several special needs cats, it means a lot to me when I see other people who have animals who are “damaged”. Especially when they so clearly understand how wonderful they are and how lucky they are to have them. We had an absolute blast, and I can’t wait for next year. This was the perfect kick off for my Birthday Week, and I just hope the rest of the week will be able to live up to it.