This past weekend my husband and I attended the first ever Vegan Oktoberfest Santa Monica. I first discovered Vegan Oktoberfest because of the billboards all around town. Shortly after that, a slew of friends were emailing me with info about the event. After having a grand time at the LA Vegan Beer and Food Fest back in May, I was really excited for a chance to try a bunch more food and beers, this time with an Oktoberfest theme!
The website listed all of the breweries that would be serving (over 20!) and their official Facebook page posted pictures of amazing looking vegan food that I could not wait to chow down on. Also, as a perk of attending the event, they promised a commemorative beer stein.
What comes to mind when reading the words “commemorative beer stein” does not really equate to what we were presented with upon our arrival, which is pictured above, and has us wondering if they forget two words from the description “tiny, plastic.” All joking aside, these little mugs were perfect size to get samples of the many beers offered and also light enough to carry around all day, unlike the giant beer steins used in the stein-holding contest that was just one of the many activities sprinkled in between live musical performances.
After waiting in line for almost an hour just to get into the festival, we were a little disappointed to see that there were yet more lines once we got inside. My first thought was to grab some food first so that I could handle the beer samples without getting too dazed. We waited in line for what we considered the most authentic(except for the vegan part) Oktoberfest-style food, sausages. It wasn’t until thirty minutes into our wait that we discovered they had ran out and were in the process of re-stocking.
So we decided to go try some beers in the meantime and check out the live entertainment. We found that the lines were long enough that if we got in line right away after getting a sample, by the time we were done with that one, we would be almost to the the front of the next line.
Once we had tasting a few beers, we were discussing what to do next and were approached by a guy named Brian who follows from my Instagram account – yes, I was recognized, lol! Brian was super nice and we ended up hanging out with him a good portion of the afternoon.
After a while, we felt hunger pangs kicking into high gear and we returned to the sausage food tent to see if we could get some Oktoberfest-style eats. Once again, a huge mistake, as they ran out right as we reached the front of the line and after waiting for almost 30 minutes! Luckily, this wasn’t a huge waste of time as we met some friendly people in line, one of whom let me use some of their sunblock which I desperately needed.
Our twice-failed attempts at acquiring vegan sausages led us to the neighboring food tent where The Rabbit Hole Cafe was cooking up quinoa bowls. The line was shorter than the other tents which offered greasier, fried foods, which to be perfectly honest was exactly what I was craving in that particular moment. But having waiting in line unsuccessfully, twice, we played it safe with the shorter line. The food was very tasty and my only complaint was that I wish there was more! The container was only filled halfway with the delicious mixture of brown rice quinoa, mushrooms in cheese sauce, “cheshire” kraut with vegan island dressing.
Once we finally had some food in our bellies, we winded over to the other side of the festival grounds to taste a few of the other beers. It was already approaching 4:30pm at this point and the lines were becoming ever longer. After just a few more samples, we started encountering the same horrible phenomenon more frequently – reaching the front of the line just as they would be running out!
Our many attempts to get our hands on some amazing of the vegan food we had been promised had left us a little hangry and we decided to bail. We snapped a few more pictures and then decided to leave the event and walk down the beach toward Santa Monica Pier, which ended up being the most enjoyable part of our day.
As we walked barefoot in the sand with the cool waves lapping up around our ankles, we discussed our experience at the event. Unfortunately, it seems as though we spent the entire time standing in lines, and not always with a reward waiting at the end. There was either too few vendors, too many attendees, too small of a venue or all of the above. I do understand that this was the first year of the event and the growing pains were most definitely pronounced.
Overall, I’m glad that so many people attended because a portion of the proceeds went towards Expand Animal Rights Now, an organization dedicated to using the legal system to help animals. I just hope that in the future they will make an effort to accommodate the amount of people who are expected to attend or else cap the max attendance level at a smaller amount.