Back in August I attended the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Festival in Richmond, Virginia. The festival started in 2014 and has grown since then. This year, the event was held in 6 different states with numerous vendors from all around the country. It is sponsored and hosted by Gluten Free & More Magazine and Enjoy Life Foods.
On the first day I was very overwhelmed, but in a good way. The amount of people that were there was a complete shock to me. It was packed with people who have celiac disease and gluten allergies as well as friends and family showing support to their loved ones. There were also people there interested in the gluten free lifestyle. My husband wanted to show his support and decided to come to the festival with me as well. It was nice having that support. I could tell he knew how excited I was to be there by the look on my face the entire time.
With close to 60 vendors, I was so anxious to see everything. They were all very friendly and provided so much useful information. Each vendor had free samples of food, brochures, coupons, games and a ton of helpful advice. It was great to be able to try new food and snacks that I have never seen before as well as new products by brands that I love. I fell in love with the majority of the samples I tried, and to my surprise my husband enjoyed some of them as well. Being able to sample different brands was amazing because we all know that shopping gluten free isn’t cheap. It’s a letdown when you spend a good amount of money on something and end up not liking it. There were a few a brands in particular that I tried and since the festival have been buying their products. My favorites were Brazi Bites, Sonoma Flatbreads, and my go-to for dairy free products, Daiya. I have found these brands all over, especially at Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and even Harris Teeter.
Besides all of the delicious food I ate, I also attended a couple of lectures. The festival included 5 scheduled lectures each day. The lectures available were“Improve Digestion with Essential Oils”,“Gluten-Free Food Labeling & Food Safety”,“Effective Communication and a Flawless 504 Plan for Your Child’s Dietary Needs”,“Federal Rights and Accommodation in School”,“Travel Tips from a Travel Agent with Celiac” and“Tips for Shopping Gluten-Free without Breaking the Bank”. I listened to two lectures, but I took away a lot from the Travel Tips lecture. We have a vacation planned for November and I was nervous about eating while traveling. However, I learned so much useful information that I was no longer nervous. These lectures were so informative and helpful, and I was so happy that we were able to sit down and attend them as a couple.
Along with the lectures they also had 5 demos scheduled throughout the day as well. The demos available were“Allergy Friendly Nice Cream Frozen Sandwiches”,“5 Fabulous Breakfast Bakes”,“Tips and Tricks for Egg Free Baking”,“Gluten-Free Baguettes” and“Gluten & Dairy-Free Grilled Ham & Cheese”. It was so much fun watching them teach and explain to everyone how to make these tasty foods and give us the reassurance that you can make nearly anything gluten-free.
Being at the festival reminded me that I’m not alone. The experience left me feeling inspired to do more research and try new things. I also left inspired to help others dealing with food allergy frustrations. The festival was such a fun experience I’m excited to attend more. I will make sure I keep you guys posted on any upcoming food allergy festivals!