About This Year's Event
Key Things to Know About Chicago VeganMania 2017:

About the Broadway Armory
Getting There
Nearby Hotels
Couchsurfing Network
Public Transportation
Automobile Parking
Bicycle Parking
How the Food Court Works
Swag Bags
The Greening Stations
Our Commitment to the Environment

About the Broadway Armory

Billed as the Chicago Park District’s largest indoor recreational facility, the 87-year old, but newly renovated Broadway Armory is also in transition to become a mini convention center and exhibit hall. It is the ideal size for Chicago VeganMania, and has a lot of amenities that will help make this year’s event truly special. Here are some of the building’s features, and the way we’ll be using them.

•    At its center, Chicago VeganMania will feature the 22,000 sq ft Exhibit Hall, that will house our amazing Vegan Food Court (more than a dozen restaurant vendors), a large dining area, and space for at least 100 exhibiting vendors.

•    Our Chef Demo Stage is located in a beautiful new state-of-the-art teaching kitchen on the second floor.

•    Our Main Presenter Stage is located in a gorgeously renovated second-floor space featuring bamboo flooring and large windows that provide a view of the festivities below.

•    Directly below the
Chef Demo Stage is the Workshop Room, that provides a more intimate and interactive setting for panels and interactive events.

•    The Culture Café is in the same room as the last three years, but with a larger stage for a roster full of great musical acts, as well as a mini spa with chair massage and other natural bodycare practitioners, gourmet coffee, a vegan milk bar. The Culture Café is right off the Exhibit Hall, but will feel like a completely different world.

•    Our other favorite features will all be returning, including a lively and activity-packed Kids’ Zone, a bookstore, a brand-new Red Carpet Paparazzi Photo Wall and more. We’re also working on some other new excitements to enhance your Chicago VeganMania experience.

Getting There
The Broadway Armory is at 5917 North Broadway in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, a few blocks from the lakefront about seven miles north of the Loop.

The Broadway Armory in a larger map

The Armory is just two blocks north and two blocks west of the northern terminus of Lake Shore Drive. It's also just steps away from the Thorndale Stop of the Red Line. Read on to help you decide the best way to get there.

Nearby Hotels
We don't have a special deal worked with any particular hotel, but there are a number of reasonably priced places to stay nearby. We live here, so we haven't stayed at any of them, and we can't vouch for them, though they all probably have to be pretty good to survive in the Chicago market. But if you stay at one and have a lousy time, please don't blame us.

House 5863 Bed & Breakfast
, 5863 N. Glenwood Ave, Chicago – 773.682.5217

Best Western University Plaza, 1501 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL – 888.253.1628

Margarita European Inn, 1566 Oak Ave, Evanston, IL – 847.869.2273

Inn at Lincoln Park
, 601 W. Diversey Parkway, Chicago, IL

Hotel Lincoln, 1816 N. Clark St, Chicago. – 312.254.4700

Couchsurfing Network
Perhaps you would rather save a few bucks and maybe even make a new friend or two by spending the night on the sofa of some Chicago-area vegan. There are a few open places to stay in the loosely organized Chicago Vegan Couchsurfing Network. If you'd like to find one of them, or if you live in or near Chicago and would like to open your home to some friendly travelers, please contact Gill (which is pronounced with a soft G like Jill). Please let her know in the subject line that you're interested in couchsurfing.

Public Transportation
The Broadway Armory is really easy to get to by public transportation, and if this is a viable option for you, we strongly recommend it.

By el train: The Thorndale stop of the Red Line is literally just a few steps away from the main entrance to the Armory. Just walk out the entrance, take a right and walk less than half a block to Broadway, turn left and cross the street and you're there. If you're coming from the northern suburbs, you can take the Yellow Line from Skokie or the Purple Line from Wilmette or Evanston to Howard Street where you can transfer to the Red Line. Every other el train line connects to the Red Line downtown, and it's pretty easy to get on the el system from Metra.

By bus: The 36 Broadway stops right at the entrance of the Armory and several other bus lines travel nearby. Get bus and train maps and schedules at Transit Chicago or keep up with the latest bus schedules at CTA Bus Tracker.

Automobile Parking
Believe it or not, parking is by far the most controversial thing about Chicago VeganMania. It boggles my mind that this is so. At least nine out of ten messages and nearly all complaints we get are about parking. I'll get into specifics in a moment, but first a general note: Chicago is a really big and busy city. Land is very valuable, so people tend to live close together and there simply isn't space for free 20-acre parking lots like you see thoughout the suburbs.

That having been said, by Chicago standards, Edgewater is one of the easiest places to find parking. There is metered street parking all along Broadway ($2 per hour with a two hour limit, so you'll have to come out and periodically feed them. They take credit and debit cards) and usually most spots are open. None of the residential streets have restricted parking, and the area is far away enough from the lake that it doesn't have towering skyscrapers with thousands of people living on top of each other. So on a typical day, it's nearly as easy to get a spot next to the Broadway Armory as it is at a 7-Eleven in Naperville.

Of course, this won't be an ordinary day. It's Chicago VeganMania and at least several hundred to a couple thousand cars will come into the neighborhood that won't normally be there.

Still, the parking situation is exponentially better than it is around the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse where we have held our previous events. It's never really easy to park around there.

To put it in perspective, parking is way more plentiful and cheaper than, say, Lollapalooza or a typical Cubs game, and somehow tens of thousands of people manage to show up for those. We happen to think that Chicago VeganMania is pretty special, and it's worth a little extra effort to get there.

Bicycle Parking
A bicycle is a wonderful way to get to Chicago VeganMania. The Armory is less than a half mile from the northern end of the Lakefront Trail, and Broadway has a bike lane. So far, we have not arranged a special off-street bike lot, but there are a lot of places to park bikes nearby. We'll be studying these in the next few days, and have clearer information up here soon.

How the Food Court Works
One of the many exciting things, and for many the most exciting thing about Chicago VeganMania, is our spectacular vegan food court. This year, it will be bigger and more exciting than ever with more than a dozen vendors including many of Chicago's most beloved vegan and vegetarian restaurants.

Chicago Veganmania's V-BucksNone of the restaurants will directly take cash. Instead, we have minted our own currency, V-Bucks, especially for the event. Our new $1 coins are just another reminder that we're creating a whole new world. They're made from aluminum and embossed with unique graphics that symbolize the mood of the festival.

Near the main entrance and near the food court, there will be several currency stations where you can exchange American dollars for the coins from the Democratic Republic of VeganMania. These will be the only currency accepted in the Food Court. The other vendors throughout the exhibit hall will be conducting business using US money.

Goody Bags
If there is anything better than coming to Chicago VeganMania, it is being among the first 100 to get in the door. In what has become a CVM tradition, the lucky earlybirds will each receive a lovely cotton tote bag loaded with all kinds of vegan food, bodycare products and other goodies. It's just another way we like to thank you for being a part of our big day. One note: people do show up early - at least an hour or more before the door opens, so if you want a Goody Bag, you'll have to do the same.

The Greening Stations
Being vegan is about a lot more than just not eating animals. We see it as living in harmony with the world, and as such, we at Chicago VeganMania feel a deep commitment to protecting our city and our planet. One of the most serious expressions of this is our Green Team and our greening stations.

We start by insisting that all of our exhibitors use eco-friendly compostable and recyclable utensils and packaging, and we avoid the use of disposable objects wherever possible. Then, instead of trash cans throughout the venue, we have Greening Stations, each staffed by a Green Team volunteer, so that anything you throw away is immediately sorted into compostable, recyclable and landfill waste. This is all sorted more carefully later in a back room until we have saved everything that can possibly be diverted from the waste stream.

As a result, our event last year – which was attended by more than 4,000
people who combined to eat thousands of plates of food and all sampled food from dozens of other vendors – sent a total of five bags of trash to the landfill, while turning more than fifteen times that amount into new products or rich soil.

Our Commitment to the Environment

Simply by being or becoming vegan, we each have a profound positive effect not only on our own health and the lives of billions of animals, but we lessen our negative impact on water pollution, water scarcity, soil erosion, fuel consumption, desertification, rainforest destruction, species extinction, global warming, the death of our oceans and a whole host of other environmental problems.

Beyond that, and beyond all the Greening Stations and Water Stations, we at Chicago VeganMania take a number of steps to conserve the environment. We do most of our promotion online, which saves a ton of paper. Our t-shirts are made from organic cotton and we repurpose and reuse materials whenever possible.

We love the planet, and we particularly love all the people on it, especially in the beautiful city we call home. We have built what we believe to be a prototype of a world of compassion, happiness, abundance and vibrant health, and it is our goal to delight and inspire everyone who comes in the door. We sincerely hope that you have a wonderful time, and that you feel refreshed, energized and empowered by the experience.

© 2009-2017, Chicago VeganMania

Chicago VeganMania, September 29, Broadway Armory

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