October 06, 2012

Gluten Free Expo Toronto 2012


Awesome swag bag 
Last Sunday, September 30th I attended the Gluten Free Expo in Toronto with my husband and our three year old son. I was super excited for this event and I hope to see another one next year. While it was a great experience, there were definitely a few hiccups.  I don't want to focus too much on the negative as I'm sure that this was a monstrous event to put together and the packed to the walls turn out can only mean good things.


Lets start with the positives

  • Amazing turn out  - I was seriously surprised by how many people turned up for the event. Hopefully this kind of enthusiasm will lead to more awareness and more variety on the store shelves.

  • Awesome variety of vendors - There were the known favourites such as Kinnikinnick, Udis, and Pamelas. And there were so many companies that I had never heard of until I tried a sample or spoke to them at their booths. The vendors ranged from food companies and catering to restaurants and magazines. There was also a vendor representing the Chicago Centre for Celiac Disease! Awesome possum.
  • great items available for purchase - Wow. Just wow. I probably could have purchased several weeks worth of groceries here. Some vendors had  pretty great deals as well. 
  • Everyone was in good spirits - This says it all I think
  • My little guy managed the 2 hours we were there without a melt down! Woohoo! He also enjoyed all of the yummy Gluten Free samples that he tried.
  • Loads of yummy samples. Seriously yummy  And nothing beats a sample of something to encourage a purchase
    Gluten Free Samples and Coupons
  • Easy to gain entrance with pre-purchased tickets - That itself was a great option! Hope to see this again.


    Jax and Myself
  • Had the opportunity to meet Jax! Had to save the best for last on my list of positives. She is truly a Gluten Free inspiration and I recommend having a regular peak at her website Gluten Free Ontario




Alright, on to the not so fun stuff


  • We arrived at 9:50 am and waited a good ten minutes to turn into the parking lot. We entered the venue at about 10:10am and it was packed. By 11:30 it was so crowded that vendors were hard to gain access to. Just walking through the crowd was tough. It seemed like there was not enough space for people to line up at the vendors without causing a blockage to the people who just wanted to pass by. 

  • Paid $9.00 for parking. I had no idea until we got there that parking would not be free. My fault for not looking into it but I figured $18 on 2 tickets would qualify for free parking or at least some sort of a discount for attending the expo.

  • When we left it was very chaotic as there is only one exit from the parking lot. We sat in a lineup of cars for 35 minutes before a second ticket booth was opened and someone came out to direct the flow of vehicles. My dad works by the Toronto Airport and apparently this is a common logistics issue at this  particular venue. All in all, I'm happy nobody freaked out and eventually (35 minutes later) traffic got flowing at a somewhat fair pace. 
  • No time to really get to know vendors or learn about the products. We ended up leaving when things got to the point of not being able to get to the booths and see what products were there. Although we strolled by most tables, there were some like the Chicago Center for Celiac Disease where I could only squeeze in enough to snag a pamphlet. Really wish I could have been able to have a chat with them. Everything just felt so rushed.

  • I  heard that a few vendors were eating non GF foods at their booths. Thats a big no no. Also, I feel as though any vendor that had GF oats in a product should have had a disclaimer saying so as many Celiacs, including myself get ill from even Gluten Free oats. 




Would I attend a future event?

Hubby & little man in parking lot
Yes, but I would attend with a different frame of mind. Perhaps taking turns navigating the Expo with hubby. This way one of us can keep the little man happy and out of the crowds. It was too difficult to navigate a stroller through the tight space and much too hard for my little guy to walk without getting tripped over.

Next time I will be expecting some big crowds. I will also buy products as I visit the booths instead of attempting to go back at the end of our rounds.


NEW products that caught my eye at the Gluten Free Expo

 At $4.00 they come already made and you just pop em in the oven. Talk about convenient  I have made my own version of these cheese buns for several years and Forno Mina is so authentic. Nothing compares to the airiness and texture  they are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Boring Porridge
I was skeptical at first but HOLY MOLY was it great. Add this to Vanilla yogurt and bam, you have a healthy and easy to make snack. I am such a fan now will have to order this online for sure. Shipping across Canada is only $2.00! 











5 comments

  1. Great post.
    As a vendor at the Gluten Free Expo (glutenfreefrankies.com) and a severe Celiac sufferer we can not imagine anyone bringing a non-gluten-free product into a gluten free expo. I hope that the sources that you received this information about vendors eating non-gluten-free food is incorrect as this is a very serious matter to us.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Joel,
    Thank you for the compliment!
    I had hoped that they perhaps got confused in the hussle and bussle of things. Turns out they were pretty sure about what they saw, and as a result contacted the event organisers to let them know about the issue.

    I hope I soon get the chance to visit Frankie's with my family.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Anneka,
    I'm so glad you like it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. As a vendor at the Expo, I have been assured that the event will definitely be at a different venue next year. By the end of the day, the vendors had complaints as well and we didn't know until after about the traffic and parking issues. ( even as vendors, we had to pay for parking). There were at least 5600 attendees, so lots of people in 6 hours. I know Margaret worked very hard on this event and we all appreciate all of the advertising and work that she and her supporters put in to it. I was surprised to see an Oat vendor there, as I also cannot eat oats.
    I had a reaction to something I sampled and would be interested in knowing if anyone else did too.

    ReplyDelete

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