OUT & ABOUT: Gluten-Free New England to host 2nd annual expo at Oakdale

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WALLINGFORD – A variety of local businesses and restaurants will be giving out samples of everything from pizza to pancakes while educating the public on gluten-free eating during Gluten-Free New England’s expo at the Oakdale Theatre in April.

“There’s something for everyone,” said Abby Helman Kelly, owner of the online gluten-free guide and directory called Gluten-Free New England.

The website, formerly called Gluten-Free Connecticut, covers all of New England and New York and lists 1,000 establishments that offer gluten-free food.

Green Olive Diner in Meriden, one of many local businesses listed on the website, offers gluten-free food including fried calamari and pizza. Mr. D’s Bakery in Wallingford, also listed, will be participating in the April 28 expo – the first for the newly launched Gluten-Free New England.

“We’re excited to be part of it,” said Bill DeFusco, owner of Mr. D’s. 

He plans on giving out miniature versions of the bakery’s gluten-free cupcakes at the expo, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Those who attend will be able to sample gluten free products from 70 different vendors like Burtons Grill in South Windsor and Divine Treasures in Manchester.

“Connecticut is chock full of great places that are accommodating to gluten-free, and safe as well,” Helman Kelly said. 

Vendors from other New England states, like Maine and Rhode Island, will also be offering samples and selling products. Food trucks offering gluten-free options will also participate.

Several nutritionists, chefs and other gluten-free experts are scheduled to speak at food demos and seminars during the expo. An 11-year old from Rhode Island will do a food demo for kids and talk about her experience with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that requires a strict gluten-free diet.

Vendors promoting products free of the top eight common allergens including soy, eggs, dairy, gluten and shellfish, will be in a separate section of the expo.

Due to the increasing popularity of the gluten-free events, Helman Kelly said tickets are sold in hourly windows so guests are able to get to each vendor without overcrowding.

“It’s about really reaching people and bringing small businesses to the forefront,” she said. “There are so many incredible local businesses and artisans producing really great gluten-free products.”

Twitter: @KusReporter


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