Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chicago GF Expo 2013

I went to my first GF Expo in Dallas in 2011, and loved it.  It was much like Christmas, discovering an entire convention center full of gluten free products that were also allergy friendly to varying degrees.  I had the opportunity to speak with many of the vendors and assess their ability to handle food allergy concerns, and I got to sample every single one of those amazing new products.  I loved every magical minute. (Insert mental picture of me twirling in the midst of a large crowded convention center, outstretched arms holding safe cookies and cupcakes while angels sing.)

In 2012 I stayed a bit closer to home and experienced the Chicago GF expo.  Again, an enormous room of allergy friendly products!  I had heard of many of them, but there were still so many new products for me to be excited about.  And? A plethora of gluten free classes to take during the day, helping guide attendees on subjects related to  gluten free baking.  The positive vibe was palpable and energizing.  I enjoyed being in an environment so saturated with people who get it, and who want to support each other in their quest toward a better life.  Support for eating well, for growing a blog or a business, for anything that your dreams were holding.  I left feeling uplifted.

I was lucky enough to attend the 2013 GF expo in Chicago.  I admit, I came with pretty high expectations.  It’s easy to see how I could be disappointed in my findings.  The vendor fair was packed with people offering products and samples of friendly foods, but I knew almost all of them from years past.  It was a bit disappointing that there were not as many new companies and products to excite me.  The class offerings this year seemed more commercial and lackluster than in years past.  Nothing spoke to me as a must see.  I began to think that maybe the expense this year was not justified.

Then the evening came about.  I had the privilege of dining with Colette Martin, author of Learning to Bake Allergen-Free, and a friend whom I only get to see at such conferences.  I so enjoyed catching up and visiting, sharing perspectives and ideas.  What a wonderful dinner!  We then moved on to join a group of incredible ladies that are active in the blogosphere, sharing their wisdom on how to live with special diets.  THIS is the energy I came for, the support, understanding, and unity of purpose that I was looking to experience! Drinks and fabulous conversation with Lauren, Claudine, Kelly, Pam, Colette, Cindy, and Keeley left me feeling like this was, indeed, an event worth the time and expense of coming to Chicago.

It also served to further fuel the fire of excitement about the Food Allergy Blogger convention coming in November.  I can not adequately describe the feeling of being surrounded by bloggers that are on the same mission as you, who want to create a web of support to catch people they have never met and buoy them through the tough days of living with dietary restrictions in this food centric culture we live in. They get it.  They understand the challenges of everyday living.  They know why you are driven to share your life on a blog.  The camaraderie was the energizing boost this weary mama needed.  And a shimmering strand of the web tying us all together in this quest to help ease the challenges of living with dietary restrictions.  I can not wait to be engulfed in this sea of positive energy and understanding again in November.

Join us.

*Now, my goal is nurture those new relationships, shimmering like shooting stars through my weekend.  I am terrible at keeping in touch, with creating a bond that extends through time and space to stay strongly real rather than allowing such glimmering moments to create acquaintances that I treasure but lack the depth that true friendship brings.

(Please stay tuned for a few product reviews from the expo.  I'll share what my impressions were, good bad and otherwise.)

1 comment:

  1. So excited to have spent time with you this weekend :) The friendships and conversations were the best part for me too! :) xo Cindy


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