As I’ve mentioned before, we’re both firmly in the “wish we could be vegetarian but like meat way too much yet appreciate good vegetarian food and try to eat it often” camp. So we were excited to spend this past Saturday at the annual Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival despite the rainy weather.

Located in Lee Park, the festival was filled with adorable cats and dogs available for adoption. Strangely there seemed to be a lot more adoptable pets than vegetarian food, but perhaps the festival organizers were using don’t eat meat Jedi mind tricks via cuddly kittens. Our second surprise was the lack of local restaurants participating. Kudos to Maharaja and Royal Indian and local stores Whole Foods and Integral Yoga for being part of the day. But where were the rest of you, C-ville restaurants? Restaurants from Harrisonburg and Richmond definitely outnumbered the local places and, as a result, it wasn’t a good representation of all the good vegetarian food this town has to offer.

We started off our eating with a yummy butternut squash sample from the Charlottesville Cooking School, and then moved on to a large platter from Harrisonburg-based Ethiopian restaurant Blue Nile. The sampler included lentils, tofu, and greens with injera, the spongey Ethiopian bread. While it was good, it mostly just made me miss Mesob, the excellent Ethiopian restaurant on the Corner that sadly closed last year.

While I hope the weather cooperates and more local places represent next year, my biggest request would be that all vendors offer sampler sizes. Food festivals should be about tasting as many different types of food as possible, but everything here was $6-10 and a full meal portion. The Taste of Chicago, one of my favorite eating events of all time, has hundreds of restaurants participating and all must offer 1-2 sample dishes no more than $3. As a result you can sample your way to sickness. Imagine the vegetarian possibilities!