SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Savannah Veg Festival made its debut on Sunday. It’s a first for Savannah.

“First year, we tried to have it in 2020 though, but this was the first event to be canceled because of the pandemic,” said Mike Young, President and founder of APlantBasedDiet.org and event organizer for Veg Fest.

And now, local business owners hope it isn’t the last.

“It’s great exposure to get that clientele, locally,” said Chanice Murtha, owner of Gush Juice.

When asked what it meant to a small business to have options like Savannah Veg Fest, Murtha said, “It means a lot, especially as someone who’s vegan.”

“I’m so happy to see it because we need more vegan spaces,” said D’andre Quinerly, co-owner of Halito Herbs.

The Veg Festival is an annual pop-up event that travels from city to city offering a space for local plant based, vegan and cruelty free artisans to sell their goods.

“What’s great about being in Savannah, there’s so many local shops. Stuff like this really brings out the community and really brings out different experiences for different people to get familiar with the local shops,” said Savannah resident, Fernando Tipacti Jr.

Veg Festivalgoers sampled smoothies, checked out cruelty free accessories and lined up for vegetarian eats.

“Everyone coming out to support each other in the community, giving them access to healthy options is so important,” continued Quinerly.

Business owners in attendance say it offers an important platform — a return to selling their products in-person.

“It is absolutely phenomenal, it’s an amazing experience,” explained Jessica Knight, owner and CEO of Twin Flame Candle Company. “I am predominately online but that takes away the interaction between customers, so I would love for them to see the face behind the product.”

For Savannahians, this kind of interaction is what shopping small is all about.

“Being able to talk directly to business owners is always a good thing and I think this does help bring exposure to them,” said local resident, Jasmine Rarugal.

Veg Fest organizers say they plan on returning to the Hostess City again next year, and in the years to come.