The Custom Choice Cereal team was torn for quite some time because we had to make a very difficult decision for last weekend: attend the gluten-free expo in Asheville, the one in Charlotte, or the one in Chicago? We had a great time in Chicago last year and also enjoyed the Ingles Gluten-Free Fair 2010 in Asheville. After long discussions we therefore said to ourselves: “Why not try something new and go to Charlotte?” And so we did.
When we entered the venue of the Charlotte Gluten-Free Expo at 9am we were welcomed by a buzz that really transformed us into fair mode! The aisle to the main vendor room was lined with stands, and plenty of people already poured in to listen to gluten-free research superstar Dr. Alessio Fasano from the Celiac Disease Research Center at the University of Maryland. Later on there also was a chance to take a gluten-free baking class with our good friend Jules Shepard – who welcomed us at the first stand when entering the main room.
The vendor room itself was PACKED even before the doors openend! We were truly amazed at the variety of gluten-free manufacturers that were there. Of course we saw most of the big names. However, it was awesome to see quite a few smaller local companies (like us) such as Tasty-Yo (frozen yogurt that is simply delicious in combination with our custom cereal), Polka Dot Bake Shop, Labrems Cookies and gluten-free pizza from FUEL serving the gluten-free community. These last guys have a store right around the corner from the expo and sampled an incredible 82 (!!) boxes of pizza!
Once the doors opened, we were super busy until the very end of the expo! It was so much fun to finally put some faces on the names of people we know as frequent customers of our custom gluten-free cereal or have just emailed with. Fortunately we had learned from our previous expo experiences and brought plenty of water to drink. Trust us when we say that your throat will get dry and sore after 5 hours of talking… People were amazed to learn that they can create their perfect gluten-free cereal online. They loved the fact that they can even name their personal mix and receive it conveniently at their doorstep. Fortunately we had brought exactly the right amount of samples so that at the end of the day we just ran out. After receiving a comment on our facebook page (where you can also see more pictures of the event) today we know why: 1,137 hungry attendees!!
Let us finish with a great advice that we learned from a few veteran expo visitors: bring tupperware boxes and/or ziplog bags for samples to take home! That way you don’t miss out on all the great foods because you’re too full after you made your way only through half the vendors :-)