By Chris Bavender
Six years ago, a group of Carmel area women who had recently been diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine when digesting gluten, wanted to create an event and sense of community for people living a gluten-free lifestyle. So the idea for the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest was born with the first one being held at the Fountains in Carmel.
“After a few successful years, the event was acquired by the premier national magazine in the space, Gluten-Free & More Magazine, with the idea to bring the fest to other cities around the country,” said Lindsey Bockhorst, marketing director for the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest.
Now, the event travels to six cities annually, including Indianapolis. More than 100 exhibitors and thousands of visitors are expected to pack the Expo Hall at the Indiana State Farigrounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 23 and 24.
“We are able to showcase amazing local exhibitors along with the big brands in the gluten-free world,” Bockhorst said. “Attendees are able to sample hundreds of foods before they head to the stores and purchase them. We even hand out bags for attendees to load up on tons of free give-aways and take home samples.”
The weekend includes presentations and cooking demonstrations by some of the top cookbook authors, researchers and professionals in the field.
“New, fresh recipes in an otherwise stale repertoire can help those who have spent years living with the diet,” Bockhorst said. “On the other side, newly diagnosed people who are still on the learning curve can begin to understand their new way of eating, all while having questions answered.”
Local vendors participating include Endangered Species Chocolate and Popcornopolis. Other big name brands/sponsors are Enjoy Life, Fresh Thyme, Gluten-Free Delights and Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss.
Bockhorst said many of the exhibitors will be free of the top eight allergens, such as dairy and eggs, because many attendees have very restrictive diets.
For more information and the presentation schedule, visit glutenfreefoodallergyfest.com.