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Gluten Free Expo Utah 2011 Review

October 10, 2011

Bigger and better is the resounding theme I heard over and over while at the Expo on Saturday.  Here is the breakdown of the good and the bad from this year’s expo + our personal awards:

PROS

The Expo was definetely bigger and better and packed!! I’m thinking this venue may need to move to a bigger location in the next few years if interest keeps growing like it has. I also loved the food samples. Always come hungry because almost every booth has samples. This is the ONLY way to sample a lot of  great gluten free products for free and see what you and your family like the best. Think: no paying $20 for three loaves of bread just to find out your family hates all of them. Some products are delicious some could use a little bit o’ help but overall I was excited by the products offered and the variety of foods and services available to the gluten free community.

The price to get in is reasonable for what you get. A lot of expos you pay money to get in only to find a million and one products aimed at getting to buy you more once you get in. I loved that there was a free breakfast available. Most people weren’t opting for it though because of the sheer amount of samples available. Coupons were given out as freely as the samples, and I loved that the hosts of the venue balanced those selling products with those giving out samples and coupons. This is why this expo continues to be my favorite each year.

The sample sizes were huge! My personal favorite was the Sweet Cake Bake Shop. It took me at least 10 minutes to decide what I wanted. We also liked the Taffy Tree display. And Thaifoon and Costa Vida? Mmmm!!!

The sheer amount of swag! Check it out here:

CONS

Crowded!! This year it seemed that the booths were closer together and more people attended. My children got tired of weaving in and out of people, and the lines for some companies were so long! We were there for close to  three hours. (But again, I did visit and mingle at every booth). I hope that the venue hosts will take this into consideration next year and make sure there is ample room.

More trashcans. Just a personal ‘pretty please??’ as I balanced sample cups and plates on my stroller while carrying a new baby in arms while looking for a trashcan and trying to keep my eyes on my other two kids. And the dirty looks I got at some booths when I dumped a whole plate of trash in a tiny wastebasket. Sorry!! Some booth owners commented that they were changing trashcans frequently and wish there were  bigger trashcans available.

This is to the booth owners: Please make sure that you have enough people at your booth!! At many booths, owners of products were trying to dish out samples while talking to passer by’s and answer their questions. It doesn’t work! People either got frustrated, grabbed the sample and left, or you made it so the lines were extremely long at your booth causing frustrated potential customers and backups at other booths. Everyone should get a chance to talk to you about your product. More people is better than not enough in my opinion and after years of participating in expos both as a booth owner and potential customer looking at your services I’ve come to realize that.

COUPONS!!!! Some booths (like my favorite Kinnikinnick) didn’t offer samples to take home and didn’t offer any sort of savings on their products. You were easily forgotten and you are a fantastic product!! Please consider coupons or savings, or take home samples as a way of being remembered.  This year also offered less store coupons. I thought it was great that Smith’s (the host last year) offered store coupons for some of the companies that didn’t offer manufacturer coupons at their booth. I was a little disappointed this year that there weren’t as many coupons, and you had to ask for them.

OVERALL RATING OF THE EXPO: “B”

And now for the awards:

BEST TASTING SAMPLES:

Sweet Cake Bake Shop

Seriously, your samples DID not taste gluten free! They were incredible and I just sat there not knowing which one to try first.

Look at the samples!!

Click here for more info

Incredible, and a great balance to the sweet. Love that there is a nice place to go out and eat that offers gluten free products.

To find out more about Thaifoon, click here.

BEST TAKE HOME SWAG:

Orem Good Earth

Seriously? In addition to a $1 off any gluten free product, they also offered two full size gluten free health products:

and not to be outdone:

Seriously? A whole bag of Tinkyada pasta plus your fabulous gluten free menu? Biaggi’s, you ROCK!

CHILDREN’S FAVORITES:

This one was a toss up. Each of the kids came up with their personal favorite along with my personal kids favorite. (No, I did not include the bounce house as one).

My daughter sat in awe at the sheer amount of taffy to choose from. She had a hard time just picking one. She was hoping one of each flavor but I told her to limit it to just one. Which took approximately 10 minutes to do.

Taffy Tree is available here.

Eleanors Bake Shop

My son loved their sugar cookies. I love their cake pops. And was sorely disappointed that they didn’t bring them as samples this year. But the cookies were a fantastic replacement.

To view Eleanor’s, click here.

Cecil Celiac

I loved this book. It was so cute, and it was fun to watch kids come up to the booth and read the book from front page to back cover. I love the colorful images and easy to read format. Definetely a great book and one that seemed to keep kids entertained!

You can get information on this newly published book here.

Overall the expo was a huge success and I wish I could write about more! What was your favorite product or booth? 

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