Jeff State to host gluten-free expo

The Great Gluten Free Expo will be Feb. 24-25. (Contributed)

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER — Jefferson State Community College is teaming up with culinary and medical experts to host a gluten-free expo Feb. 24-25.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Those who have Celiac disease cannot properly digest this protein and must remove wheat, rye and barley products from their diets.

Event organizer Jenny Basselin said her experience with gluten-free diets began when her daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Basselin authors a blog about her experience, Gluten Free Birmingham.

“We are a strict gluten-free diet. There’s a lot of time and planning involved, especially if you’re going out to eat or something like that,” Basselin said. “It’s not just a fad diet. It’s life-long.”

The expo will consist of three events. The first, the Gluten-free Gala, will be Feb. 24 at Jeff State’s Shelby-Hoover campus, and will feature a gluten-free and dairy-free meal, live music from local band 2Blu and the Lucky Stiffs and guest speaker Dr. Alessio Fasano, chief researcher at the University of Maryland and the Center for Celiac Research. Tickets are $50 per adult and $25 per child with purchase of adult ticket. Tickets also include admission to the Feb. 25 events.

The Making Tracks for Celiacs 5k walk/run will be Feb. 25. Registration starts at 7 a.m., and the race starts at 8 a.m., with awards at 10 a.m.

The event will be held at Hoover’s Veterans Park, directly across from Jeff State’s Shelby-Hoover campus. Registration fees are $25 for participants ages 13 and up if registering by Feb. 22 and $30 on the day of the race. Children age 12 and under can participate for $15 if registering by Feb. 22 and $20 on the day of the race. Registration cost includes event T-shirt. To register, visit Celiacwalk.org and click on “Participant registration.”

Also on Feb. 25, Jeff State will host Gluten Free University, which will include vendor booths and presentations from experts on Celiac disease and gluten-free topics. Entrance to Gluten Free University is $5 at the door.

Basselin said organizers are hoping for 1,000-1,500 attendees.

“People are just thrilled that we are actually having an event in Birmingham,” she said. “This is the first expo in Birmingham for people that are gluten-free, and the people who are gluten-free are just thrilled about it.”

Ticket purchasing information and other information about the event can be found at Bhamkidsandfamily.com/home/great-gluten-free-expo.