Vegetarian Summerfest – More Than Just a Conference

Vegetarian Summerfest – More Than Just a Conference

Posted on 13. Jul, 2009 by Yvonne Smith in Blog, Travel

I have just returned from attending the North American Vegetarian Society’s Vegetarian Summerfest for the second year in a row.  I wrote about last year’s experience here and just as I knew it would be, it was an amazing, uplifting, inspiring and fun experience once again.

There is just nothing quite like spending time with hundreds of like-minded people, sharing ideas and amazing meals, making and listening to music, finding creative new ways to spread messages of nutrition, cooking, animal rights, etc., and this year especially, celebrating LOVE!

I met Rae Sikora and JC Corcoran last year at the Pittsburgh Airport.  I was waiting for the shuttle to take me to Johnstown, PA and when I saw JC in a sweatshirt with VEGAN written on the front, I knew I had found my group.  I didn’t know any of these folks before, but they made me feel welcome right away.

Throughout the weekend I got to know them better by listening to Rae’s incredible talks and by visiting the Plant Peace Daily booth and chatting with them both.  I was struck by how Rae always seemed to address JC as “Mi Amor” or “My Love” every time she spoke to him.  Their love for each other was so apparent and incredibly beautiful.

This year I unfortunately didn’t get to share the shuttle ride with them, but as soon as I saw Rae when I arrived on campus, we exchanged hugs and kisses and I found out the most wonderful news:  She and JC were to be married on Saturday in the Adirondack Shelter on the UPJ campus.  They had met at Summerfest three years earlier, so it was completely fitting that they celebrate their love with their extended vegan family at the place where it all started.

The wedding was officiated by the amazing Howard Lyman, who is always an inspirational speaker.  Rae and JC wrote their own touching vows, which were heard for the first time by each other as they were being spoken out loud.

There was music, laughter, wine and a lovely cake made by the fabulous Dairy-Free Dessert Diva Fran Costigan, but even though it had the ingredients that characterize most weddings, this one stood out to me in so many ways from any I’ve ever attended.  Summerfest is an amazing family and I believe the love that Rae and JC share and radiate is enough to renew anyone’s faith in relationships and marriage.  It definitely had an effect on me and I know I’m not alone.

I am so honored to have been part of a such a beautiful celebration.  My very best wishes to Rae and JC, two of the most incredible people I know.



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7 Responses to “Vegetarian Summerfest – More Than Just a Conference”

  1. Fran Costigan

    13. Jul, 2009

    Oh Yvonne, The photo you posted is prefect-really captures the love. I am still in la la land remembering the beauty and sense of this is the way it is-should be. I had a wonderful note today from Rae and JC who are on the road. They are very special individuals. Wow, this couple is huge! Your write up is wonderful.

  2. Jill, The Veggie Queen

    14. Jul, 2009

    I ditto Fran. What a special and amazing event. And you got a great photo. I’ve been kind of scared to see what mine look like but have them stored in my mind’s eye.

    I met Rae at my first Summerfest breakfast 4 years ago, and she has held a special place in my heart.

    Hope to see you in August. I am teaching McDougall on the 7th. If you’ll be around then, let me know and stop by.

    You describe Summerfest so well. Hope that more new like-minded people come next year.

  3. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

    14. Jul, 2009

    So awesome. Wish I could have been there. Thanks for posting this, Yvonne, and for capturing such a beautiful photo of two of my favorite people in the world.

  4. veganlisa

    14. Jul, 2009

    Spending time with you was one of my personal Summerfest highlights. I am so happy that our paths have crossed…I hope they will end up intertwined again in the future.
    Attending Rae and J.C.’s wedding was an incredible reminder of what it means to truly love and appreciate another. I know that together Rae and J.C. will continue to make this planet a better place for all of us.


  5. JoAnn Farb

    15. Jul, 2009


    I don’t think we have met (how can this be?!) — I was there at Rae and JC’s wedding — it was incredible.! Your pictures and write up are wonderful too. wasn’t that cake beautiful? So elegant with the gold leaf on it and it was even gluten free too. (Fran is simply AMAZING)

    The trasformation of the Adirondack shelter with the lights, fire in the fireplace, strings of photos and even the gorgeous wildflower arragnement that Lee J Ball created really set the stage.

    Howard did a wonderful job officating — and I just loved his use of the “Mad Cowboy” book in place of the bible.

    Not like summerfest all by itself isn’t over the top extraordinary — with the phenomonal slate of speakers, cooking demos, exercise classes, beloved children’s center and delicious meals. But then during the wedding ceremony I looked over and saw Hans Diehl just grinning and grinning (earlier as he was walking around he just kept saying, how terrific Summerfest was and how it was such a “hugfest”. All in all it was a night to remember — it was the icing on the cake of Summerfest!

  6. Fran Costigan

    19. Jul, 2009

    I just read the comments and ditto everyone. JoAnn in particular, this morning–I woke thinking of the hugfest aka Summerfest, and the thoughts make me feel so good. Now, if only Chefs Ken and Cathi were making my breakfast.

    For me the icings on the cakes were many–and not only the ones I made for the marriage of Rae and JC. I miss you all and am sending love.

  7. Jerry Schneble

    29. Jul, 2009


    I finally have posted my pictures from JC & Rae’s wedding. They are on my Picasa site – for those who want to enjoy even more pictures of this awesome couple and their wedding.

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