I had one of those “who’d have thunk?” weekends. I presented at a vegfest in a little town in Texas no one has ever heard of. When Chef AJ first told me about the goings-on in Marshall, Texas, my first reaction was, “Where?”
And that’s the reaction of everyone I told, too.
Well, you can blame it on the mayor of Marshall – the Honorable Ed Smith – and his lovely, vivacious, smart-as-a-whip wife, Amanda. They got it into their heads that since this vegan thing was so great for them, they’d tell everyone else about it, too, and maybe get the whole town to go vegan. So they created this thing called “Get Healthy, Marshall.”
Well, what they’ve done is nothing short of remarkable. On top of a yearly program of information dissemination, potlucks, and events aimed at improving the health of the citizens of this little town in east Texas, they put on one of the best vegfests in the nation, the New Year, New You Health Fest. I kid you not, this event is not only well organized and full of an exciting roster of presenters such as Dr. Michael Gregor, Dr. Alan Goldhammer, Victoria Moran, Brenda Davis, Colleen Patrick Goudreau, and of course, the indomitable Chef AJ. It even featured one of my heroes, ultrarunner Scott Jurek. Yes, I beamed and blushed as he signed my personal copy of “Eat and Run.”
Inspired by Scott, I even participated in my first 5K run (I run this distance and more all the time, but I’ve never done anything remotely close to an actual race). It was fun, and I came in 2nd in my ripe old age group. Unfortunately, Scott had other races to run, so I can’t brag that I got to run with him.
But the best part of the event was the passion and utter dedication of all of the people in Marshall that made this event such a fiery success. I mean passion with a capital P. These are people that just weren’t going to take “no” for an answer when they decided they were going to throw a big event in a town barely on the map and get people to come from all over the country and even the world – there were even a couple of people from across the big pond in Europe. They promoted the heck out of it, worked tirelessly year-round to ensure its success, and you know what? They got Marshall on the map.
I had a grand old time presenting as well as attending other lectures and demos. I got to meet some great people. And I got to stay in a beautiful plantation house and made friends with the folks who live there. By, oh golly, I hope they invite me back next year!
I tip my hat to you, Ed and Amanda Smith, and all you dedicated vegan folks in the hippest little town in Texas.