The V-Fest first began in 2019, in the Saint Paul Frogtown Community. Curator Phillip McGraw says he was inspired by his personal experience growing up in Chicago:
“As a child, I didn't know the difference of eating fruits and vegetables and eating candy because it was just all around me and that was the norm,” Phillip shared. “It's a truth that what you're exposed to and the people that you hang around every day is a part of your education. Now that I'm in my 30s, I know how to connect with people and use certain languages and experiences to bring greater awareness to people so they can live a healthier life.”
Phillip says the V-Fest used to be the Vegan Fest but has taken a new name to be more inclusive and centered around whole-wellness, rather than partial wellness.
“The V stands for ‘vitality,’” Phillip explained. “We believe in a whole-holistic approach because you can be healthy and eat healthy but if you're not addressing your mental health or you don't have your tool belts to take a deep breath, to stretch or do yoga, you're gonna fall back into triggers that may not be healthy to you, your family, or your community.”
Phillip says his wellness journey has given him greater energy and mental clarity. He says it’s led him to a deeper connection to self and spirituality that he uses now to serve the community.
“We believe doing more good in the community is really food advocacy, health advocacy,” he said. “The pain and suffering of our ancestors are still in our blood. We're eating trauma, we're eating our pains, we're ignoring the signs.
The V-Fest takes place on Saturday, July 23rd at Arts-Us in St. Paul, and on Saturday, August 13th at UROC in Minneapolis.