Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo Returns to Dallas
Aug 01, 2016 08:25PM
● By Gina Cronin
Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo, the largest gluten-free expo in the United States, is returning to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the sixth consecutive year from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., September 10 and 11, at the Dallas Market North Hall.
CEO Jen Cafferty started the event in Chicago nearly 10 years ago in the hope that she could help individuals and families make their gluten-free journey easier, including her own. “The event began as cooking classes with only a few exhibitors,” says Cafferty, “we have since grown to include hundreds of brands and a full educational series.”
The Expo attracts guests with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, autoimmune conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, autism, Down syndrome and those simply curious about gluten-free living. It also draws people with a range of other allergies such as nuts and dairy, and there is a large area designated to nut-free vendors.
All exhibitors are 100 percent gluten free and range from large national companies to local sole proprietorships. Items available for sampling and purchase include baked goods, kale chips, kombucha, nut-free nut butters, skin care, vitamins, supplements, cosmetics, cleaning products and more. Service providers such as chiropractors, gluten testing companies, support groups and cookbook authors are also present to share their expertise. All exhibitors have an allergen card at their booth so attendees can see what ingredients are in the product in a straightforward, easyto- understand format. Those with severe allergies should still inquire with the representative before trying a product.
Cafferty met with the leaders of the Gluten Intolerance Group of Greater Dallas, which welcomed her to come to Dallas. “They helped me fi nd the fi rst venue and are still there, volunteering and hanging up posters each year,” says Cafferty. “Without that group, there would not be an Expo in Dallas.”
The Expo is a rare opportunity for products to be exhibited in front of thousands of gluten-free consumers. “It’s like doing a store demo on steroids,” says Cafferty. “There are not many places an allergen-friendly or gluten-free brand can go to get such a target audience.”
This year’s educational series touches upon topics within the fi eld and are led by distinguished doctors and bestselling authors from the community. The classes are included in the entry fee and cover such essentials as avoiding cross contamination, learning what products gluten may be hiding in and developing healthy meal building.
“It is a very fun, family-friendly event,” says Cafferty, “It is an amazing opportunity for people to try gluten- and allergen-free products before purchasing, talk to brands, get coupons, take samples home and on top of that, get educated.” Gluten-free living has come a long way in the past few years, much of which can be attributed to the resources available through the Expo and Cafferty’s Gluten Free Media Group, which produces marketing campaigns for glutenfree brands to connect with more than 3 million consumers.
Gina Cronin is a writer for Natural Awakenings magazine.