On Saturday, Oct. 12, Salt Lake City will host the National Gluten-Free Expo at the South Towne Expo Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“For me, walking into the Gluten-Free Expo is like walking into Disneyland,” said Ashley Bliss, a BYU sociology student. “When I found out that I had celiac disease two years ago, it was really hard to completely change my diet. This event exposes me to a lot of brands, stores and products I had no idea about and helps make the change easier.”
The expo will feature a free cereal breakfast, cooking classes, a kids area with games and face-painting and samples of different products from over 150 national and local manufacturers. Last year, the single-day event brought in over 7,100 people, making it the largest gluten-free expo in the nation.
“I attended last year and loved the free samples and how passionate all the vendors were about their food,” said Brittany Tennant, a BYU psychology student. “I didn’t go because I need to eat gluten-free, but several of my best friends do, and I was very interested to see what kinds of food were available.”
The increase in cases of gluten intolerance and celiac disease have led to a fast-growing market for gluten-free foods. Debbie Deaver was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2009 after years of health problems and founded the expo to help others reach a quicker diagnosis and learn to live with the restrictions of a gluten-free diet.
“About 1 percent of the population suffers from celiac disease,” Deaver said. “That would mean about 28,000 individuals in Utah. But celiac disease disrupts the entire family since it causes severe health problems and forces families to change their diets completely. We’re trying to help make that transition easier.”
The Expo is sponsored by stores like Macey’s, Harmon’s and Fresh Markets. Both local Utah vendors and big-name national manufacturers will exhibit an array gluten-free options.
“There really are so many different options, especially here in Utah,” Bliss said. “By attending the expo you can learn so many ways to live gluten-free.”
Tickets to the event are $8, with a Family 4-Pack for $28. This year $1,000 dollars will be given to one of the first 1,000 people in line, and if participants buy tickets online at glutenfreeexpo.com, they could win one of 15 prizes.
The expo will be located at the South Towne Expo Center, 9575 S. State Street in Sandy.