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Connecting Our Communities

Gluten-Free Fest to highlight options available to those with special dietary needs


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Providing information for those living a gluten-free life is the raison d’être of the first annual KW Gluten-Free Fest set for September 15 in Breslau. The goal is to shine a light on the growing number of options for those with special dietary needs.

The festival will showcase different vendors and opportunities for those living with celiac disease or who have a gluten intolerance to get familiar with all the retailers in the region that cater to these dietary needs.

This is a chance to show those who cannot eat gluten the options they have, says Sara Hignell, co-planner of the KW Gluten-Free Fest.

“People with celiac disease feel like they can’t leave their house because they’re afraid of getting glutened. We want to provide options for people to go with their families and friends so they can participate and enjoy themselves.”

With a variety of bakeries, restaurants and retailers coming together for the event, the community will be able to explore what the choices are when living a gluten-free life. Vendors will all be local with an exception of a few that will be coming from outside of the region to share their knowledge and experiences with celiac disease, explained Hignell.

Throughout the day, guests will be able to try samples of food from over 25 different vendors while enjoying guest speakers like Celiac and the 6ix and GFree Wifey who will be speaking about travelling in the community and abroad with a gluten-free diet.

Jacqueline Peppler, executive director of Gluten Free Food Program, said she thinks events like these create awareness for those who really need it.

“If a restaurant or a bakery or manufacturer or product is going to present at a show like this, they’re dedicated … really dedicated to serving the celiac customer rather than the trendy gluten-free customer.”

Those with celiac disease have various symptoms and one of them being sensitive skin, Hignell says, beyond the delicious food people will be able to buy different products such as soap, skin care products and even gluten-free t-shirts at the festival.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that restricts the intake and digestion of gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye, and barely, explains Peppler. It damages the intestines and can lead to a lack of nutrition because the body isn’t able to absorb proper nutrients that it needs.

The Gluten-Free Fest is asking people to donate gluten-free food or follow a buy two and donate one concept that was created by GFree Wifey who is partnering with the Region of Waterloo Food Bank to give back to the community.

The first-ever Gluten-Free Fest is set for September 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Breslau Community Centre. There is a $5 admission fee that guests can purchase online through Eventbrite or at the door the day of the event.

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