Thrive Allergy Expo: Unique Event For ALL Allergy Sufferers

The allergic and gluten-free community is abuzz about the upcoming THRIVE Allergy Expo in Chicago on the weekend of April 18th & 19th. There is so much discussion among those who follow a free-from and gluten-free diet, I wanted to get the latest scoop from Tara Howard, Director of Marketing for THRIVE.

How did the Thrive Allergy Expo come in to existence
Founder & President, Andrew Fash has several family members who suffer from severe allergies. Over time, he saw how difficult it was for his family to find allergy-specific products. When they did finally find these products, they were unable to have their product questions answered. It occurred to Andrew that he should bring vendors, medical physicians, service providers and national non-profits support groups to a centrally located venue to help all allergy and Celiac disease sufferers.

So the expo is for all food allergies and not just those who are Gluten free?
Yes, the expo covers all food allergies and gluten-intolerances. Whether you have dairy, soy, egg, tree-nut, peanut allergies or Celiac Disease, our vendors are able to provide safe-to-eat and delicious foods for you to purchase to take home and enjoy. A lot of our exhibitors are offering samples too!

Is this the first year for Thrive?
Yes, this is our first Expo, and it is one of a kind! There is no other Expo in North America that offers products, services, information and support specifically for the allergic and Celiac community. There are similar shows held in London and Australia that inspired us to bring such an expo to the US.

So the expo will be in Chicago, any reason why and will there be upcoming expos in other cities?
Andrew Fash and the majority of our staff are native Chicagoans. We have a lot of city pride! Chicago boasts the world’s largest convention center, so it was natural that we had our first show in our home city. However, we greatly anticipate our next upcoming Expo in February 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.

How many exhibitors do you have this year?
We have over 60 exhibitors offering over 120+ brands and products. The number of exhibitors increases daily. I’m excited to say that our show floor is almost sold out!

I noticed there is a Care Free Cafe for food during the expo. Will the food be completely peanut and tree nut free?
Yes, all items will be peanut and tree-nut free, but we are taking it one step further! Currently, Lisa Williams is consulting with McCormick Place’s Restaurant Partners to provide a free-from and gluten-free food menu. Please visit her website to get a better idea of her talents and expertise.

Any special surprises? I saw a mention about Sico the robot.
There are so many wonderful surprises, activities and special events planned at THRIVE, especially for kids! Sico, the artificial intelligence robot is just one of them. He tells jokes, and he can answer any question. There will also be a Sico coloring contest where kids can see their finished colorings on a large screen TV in the Family Lounge sponsored by Kids for Allegra Oral Suspension.

Also, Rock’O from the Angel Service Dogs will demonstrate on how he can detect well hidden peanuts, and he’s bringing his entourage of dogs and puppies. This will be super fun for kids! Again, we have a lot of activities for kids, so please visit our website for all the details.

Anything else?
I don’t know where to start, THRIVE has so much going on! We have two days filled with cooking demonstrations hosted by Whole Foods Lee Tobin, as well as Jen Cafferty, Jules Shepard, and many others established chefs.

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology are offering attendees FREE asthma screenings.

We have expert speakers holding educational seminars both days of events in our Healthy Living & Marketplace Forum. Again, visit our website for the schedule and details.

All I can say is that THRIVE is a unique event, and not to be missed! You can pick up our Program Guide at any local Chicago and surrounding area Whole Foods and BORDERS book stores Saturday, April 11th!

For more information as well as a schedule of events visit the website at

For tickets visit

Tara was kind enough to offer Best Allergy Sites readers and members a promotional code for tickets.

Promo Code: bestallergysites (all one word/all lower case)
Good for $5 off the weekend pass
Expires April 19th 2009

Thanks Tara, and thank you Thrive!