By Chris Bavender
A national food festival that had its start in Carmel returns to Indiana this month. The Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest is set for Sept. 29 and 30 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Nearly 100 vendors are expected.
Seven years ago, a group of Carmel women recently diagnosed with celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine when digesting gluten – created an event to give others living a gluten-free lifestyle a sense of community and information on the disease.
“It received some national recognition which put it on the map, and then it was bought out by Gluten Free & More Magazine,” said Lindsey Bockhorst, marketing director for the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest. “Everything in life is about timing, and they were looking to get into the consumer show space, and the idea was born to take (the fest) around the country.”
Indianapolis is the fifth stop of a six-city tour. Each stop features national and local exhibitors. Native Bread, Chef Bricker and the Urban Ladle are a few of the local vendors that will be featured during the Indianapolis stop. The festival also features speakers, researchers, cooking demonstrations and more.
“There are lectures on different topics for anyone who is new to the gluten-free lifestyle or those who have been diagnosed for a while but have stale recipes or need to hear about new information,” Bockhorst said. “It’s a way to say, ‘Hey, you’re not in this alone. There’s a whole community out there dealing with the same things as you.’ And it lets people know it’s not about deprivation but finding new items that work for you.”
Bockhorst said living gluten-free has changed dramatically through the years.
“Ten years ago if you asked someone what food they could eat that was gluten-free, they probably would have said a cardboard pizza, but it’s really opened up now,” Bockhorst said. “And this is a way to meet others who eat like them, especially for kids who can’t eat what their friends do, to really normalize it for them.”
The Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 29 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 30. Tickets are $15 for one day and $25 for a weekend pass. Discounts for seniors and children are available. Current readers can receive a 20 percent discount online using the code CURRENT18.
For more on the festival, visit glutenfreefoodallergyfest.com/.