Speakers, and Freebies, and Samples! Oh My!
Every year there's a whole new batch of Gluten-Free Events that we can go to. Have you ever wondered if it’s worth it to travel to one of these events?
**Would you like to hear about the latest discoveries from professionals in the Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance fields?
**Would you like to spend just one day being able to eat and enjoy food without worry?
**Would you like to know what new services and products are available to you.
**Would you like to exchange tips and stories with people who walk in your shoes every day?
**Would you like to see, smell, and taste brand new products that haven’t even been offered to the public yet?
**Would you like to purchase products that are factory fresh and available for discounted prices?
Dress Comfortably, Especially Your Shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking, maneuvering, weaving in and out and even some just plain waiting. You’ll probably be dealing with some pretty crowded halls. Concrete parking lots and cement floors do not make for happy feet unless you’re wearing comfortable shoes. Pockets are a wonderful thing for stashing some cash or card, and if you have to carry a purse go with one that you can wear over your shoulder.
Bring Friends & Family: Heck, bring everyone! Whether they’re Gluten-Free or not, if they come with you they’ll see that you’re not alone in your struggle to be healthy. Attendance does vary, but there will be between 500-5,000 people at any of these Events. Having friends and family along with you to sample comes in handy too when you’re looking to find something that everyone can enjoy.
Bring The Kids: These events are generally family oriented and very kid friendly. You’ll often find small areas set up just for the kids to play. You can bring the strollers in, but remember there will be crowds of people. Children simply love to sample, but Vendors will not hand out treats willy-nilly without a responsible adult nearby to give a nod of approval.
Bring a Bit of Cash: If you plan to shop bring some extra cash along with your credit/debit card. A few Vendors don’t have those handy little card swipes. Not only will you find some of the best prices and bargains around but also the freshest product available. Trust me, you’re gonna want to shop!
Bring an Extra Shopping Bag: Yep, you’re gonna wanna shop! At most of these Events everyone gets a Goodie Bag simply for walking through the door. And some of these are already stuffed half full with take home goodies. If you bring friends and family with you, often they can all get a Goodie Bag for walking through the door. But it never hurts to have an extra, empty, bag tucked away for any overflow of freebies or purchases.
Handicapped or Handi-capable, be prepared: Bring what you need to enjoy your day. Generally, Volunteers are everywhere so don’t be afraid to ask for help…even if it’s simply to locate a chair to sit for a bit. If you can’t find a Volunteer, ask a Vendor…it’s just as important to them that you enjoy your visit to the Event.
Please Be Respectful: Yes, there is a ton of free stuff to be had…but don’t forget you’re in a hall full of other human beings trying to enjoy their day too. I’ll never forget the idiot who stepped OVER the baby in her baby carriage so that he could get to a free cupcake! Seriously? It was a 1oz piece of cake with a dot of frosting for heaven’s sake!
Taste as You Wander: Now, you have to admit, Samples are the main reason most people attend these Events. And you’ll find bite-sized samples of just about everything from old favorites, to hard to find gotta-haves, to brand new not-even-on-the-market-yet items. But please pace yourself…nibble here, nibble there and the next thing you know you’re sick on overload. Pay attention to all those little bites so that you don’t regret it later on.
Bring your ‘Take Away’ Kit: Granted the Samples are only tiny little 1oz portions, but that doesn't mean you can’t take some home for later. Pack a couple of those small snap top containers along with a few snack sized zip bags and you won’t be so inclined to overdue the nibbles and you’ll have samples to try out later on when you get back to your hotel room or home.
Check the Ingredients: Yes, everything is Gluten-Free…but if you have multiple sensitivities it pays to read the label even at one of these Events. Every Vendor should know what’s in their product, if not they will have a listing of ingredients available.
Talk to People: This is not the time to be shy. Vendors, Volunteers, other Attendees, they ALL understand. It can actually be a little overwhelming at first. But don’t be afraid to talk to people. Start a conversation; you’ll be amazed at the Community you may not have even known was there for you.
Talk to the Vendors: Nosh and nibble to your heart’s content…but don’t rush on to the next table so quickly. If it’s not too crowded and you can find a spot to get out of the traffic flow, stop and speak to the Vendors for a moment. Tell them how much you enjoy their product, what changes would you like to see, your feedback is priceless to them. Be pleasant and polite and you just might find them tucking an extra full-sized product into your shopping bag as a thank you!
If it’s FREE, it Must be for Me: Well, not always…this goes back to that ‘Please be Respectful’ reminder. Simply because you see un-attended tables DOES NOT mean you can simply swipe everything into your bag and walk away. Trust me, I've had Vendors tell me this has happened if they even leave the table for a minute to get a drink or use the bathroom. It’s rude and very unfair to the many others who want to visit that table to receive their samples.
How far is too far: That depends on you. I know a few people who won't travel more than 30 minutes to go to an Event designed specifically for them. Myself? I'll drive four hours...in fact I do that at least once a year to attend an event. Living in Florida gives me 2-3 events to choose from every year. I like to plan a weekend get-away. Find a nice hotel for two nights, enjoy my day at the event and then take my time driving home again.