Is this the first photo of myself on this blog? I’m thinkin’ it is, which only goes to show just how special this weekend was. Everyone who attended seems to be getting their Vida Vegan Con wrap-up posts out there, filled with tons of photos and recaps of the classes they went to. I don’t have any of that. What I have is an uncharacteristically emotional sort of whiplash that I need to write my way through.
My conference experience started where I left off in my last post, with hope and fear, and I was already exhausted. I knew I would have to ride through the weekend on adrenaline. Far too often I heard myself say, “If I could just have one more day.” We still had so much to do. We knew we’d be scrambling behind the scenes and hoped few would notice. Our friggin’ banner didn’t arrive until just before Friday night’s reception—we carried it in with us as we were about to give our welcome not for pageantry, but because we’d only assembled it minutes before. (This sort of thing would happen again and again throughout the weekend.)
We simply had no idea of how our speakers, registrants, exhibitors, or assistants would react to our little experiment. When we had around 50 vegan bloggers show up at our pre-con meet & greet, we were blown away. When we had a line at registration on Friday, we were blown away yet again. And when our ballroom was packed for the VegNews cupcake-n-champagne reception, blown away, in awe, giddy. At one point, Janessa and I walked into the ballroom, looked at each other, and just giggled. People came to our party. How did that happen?
Our opening speaker, Laura Beck, set exactly the tone we wanted. If you weren’t there (or if you were), check out The Cosmopolitan Hour’s podcast for her whole speech. She almost made me cry I don’t know how many times. It was the first time anyone spoke of the community we had as vegan bloggers. This became a running theme, community. We have a job to do, to share experience, knowledge, opinion, recipes for homemade Kahlua, and it’s not always easy. Sometimes you want to quit. Sometimes you feel very alone. Sometimes you feel like what you do is ridiculous and selfish. That’s when I try to think back to when I was going vegan. I read every blog I could find, looking for recipes, ideas, tips and tricks—anything to help both myself and Tom with our new diet.
We knew the hard part—the classes and demos and tech needs and catering—was yet to come, but thus far it was just beautiful.