If you go
What: Johnny Appleseed Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today
Where: Johnny Appleseed Park, near Memorial Coliseum
Cost: Free admission; parking $4 in Coliseum parking lot
Heidi Fritz is a vegetarian, but she wasn’t complaining about not having enough to eat Saturday at the Johnny Appleseed Festival in Fort Wayne.
The first-time visitor from Winamac says most festivals don’t have much in the way of vegetarian food.
“I get kind of used to it,” the 36-year old dental hygienist said. “It doesn’t bother me at all.”
This month, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal rights group, urged festival organizers to go meatless to honor Johnny Appleseed’s own eating habits.
Festival organizers declined for this year, saying plans were already set, but agreed to consider more options for next year.
Many of Saturday’s visitors weren’t about to shun meat, but some of them did like the idea of seeing more vegetarian fare.
Jeff Jump of Fort Wayne, waiting in line for a smoked turkey leg or bison burger, he wasn’t sure which, said more vegetarian food wouldn’t bother him.
“It would be nice to have some healthy food, maybe more salads,” Jump said.
Jump’s wife, Shirley, said the couple’s daughter, Amanda, 19, went vegetarian for a year when she was a senior in high school. The family bought cookbooks, tried recipes and started eating less red meat.
“We rarely eat red meat,” Jeff Jump said. “We eat the leaner meats. We eat chicken and fish, mostly broiled.”
Tina Stewart of Fort Wayne said she thinks the festival would be missing something if it went meatless.
“It’s like the Three Rivers (Festival) and Junk Food Alley. People come and eat what they want.
“Smelling that (meat) here as it cooks outdoors is part of the festival,” said the 48-year-old nurse, who was planning nonetheless to chow down on a vegetarian option – an apple dumpling sold by the Northeast Kiwanis Club.
John Schlup, tending the Schlup Farm stand, said there were plenty of options for vegetarians at the festival, if they were willing to take the food home and cook it.
His stand was brimming with tomatoes, zucchini, green and yellow beans, turnips, red and green peppers, cauliflower, grapes and even fresh-cut rhubarb he grew in a shady spot to extend its season.
Schlup said he was already out of Cortland and Jonathan apples and the last of his Michigan-grown peaches.
Customers had expressed disappointment about that but weren’t buzzing about whether the festival should go meatless.
“Not one person said one word about it,” he said.
Fritz said she went vegetarian seven years ago for health reasons after watching family members cope with obesity, joint problems and diabetes. She said she was quite happy with the option she found at Too Busy B’s farm stand – a bag of shiny apples.
“Usually there are not many (vegetarian) options,” she said. “But a Honeycrisp apple is always a good start.”