THERE were huge queues at a vegan fair in the New Forest at the weekend after more than 1,000 people turned out for the event.
Organisers were forced to operate a ‘one in, one out’ policy to manage the event, which took place at Lyndhurst Community Centre on Saturday, April 30.
It is the first time that a fair dedicated to a vegan diet has taken place in the New Forest.
Around 40 exhibitors attended, one of whom travelled from Birmingham for the day.
And visitors arrived in their droves to sample vegan food and buy ethical clothing and artisan candles.
At one stage, queues were so long that organiser Lizzi Shaw – founder of Dorset Vegan – handed out free Pana Chocolate treats to those waiting outside the community centre.
She said: “We had about 1,200 people visit us throughout the day, which was a lot more than we’d expected.
“I’d estimated that we’d have between 750 and 1,000 visitors.
“The New Forest does have a few vegan-friendly places and it just goes to show that the interest is really there for more.”
The Bournemouth Vegan Fair, which is also organised by Dorset Vegan, attracts thousands every summer.
Lizzi said: “People travelled into the New Forest from miles around to visit the fair.
“I spoke to people who had travelled more than an hour and a half to come along.
“It had an absolutely huge response.”
She praised a “fantastic group of volunteers” who helped to manage the crowds.
“They were brilliant at handling everything that was going on,” she said.
“It was very, very busy.
“The fair took place between 11am and 4pm and the queues to come in finally finished at about 2.30pm.
“Around 50 people were queuing up when we first opened the doors and it was almost constant from then.”
Lizzi decided to ask members of the community directly if they wished to see a change in admissions policy at future vegan fairs.
She took to Facebook to tell her followers that she was “looking seriously at limiting the total number of people on each day and highly restricting the number of tickets available on the door” as part of a bid to cut queues.
However, she said: “There was a clear consensus to carry on exactly as we have been.
“Pre-paid tickets are already available, but people still want there to be tickets on the door, and it seems that they don’t mind queueing for them.”