Conferences & Expos for Bloggers and Foodies – GFAF, CDF, BlogHer Food and Your Thoughts

Posted by on June 3, 2011 | 25 Comments

May was an insanely busy month for me, and while I like travel, three conferences in one month (right after we did a long distance move in mid-April) is a bit more than I can handle. They seriously wore me out. But I wanted to share my experiences with y’all here, and also get your feedback on conferences and events – what you enjoy, recommend, hope to attend … or not.

Gluten-Free Allergen-Free Expo (Chicago, IL)  – This event was incredible from a social perspective. The amazing AndreAnna of Life as a Plate “was my bitch” (her words, not mine!) for the event, which made it that much more fun. We cruised the expo on Friday, sampling everything that was dairy-free (for me) and pretty much everything for her since the entire expo was gluten-free. My stomach was hating me after that, but getting a taste of the various foods was pretty cool. It was a nice-sized expo, the food served for lunch was actually pretty darn good, and the dessert and drinks party for those of us who were presenting was fabulous. Talk about an amazing line-up of ladies – dozens of bloggers who I am friends with and admire (you all know who you are!). Oh yeah, and the desserts were pretty awesome too. I couldn’t get enough of the frosting on the cupcakes – seriously, dairy-free frosting people … like I’m going to hold back. Throughout the three-day event, AndreAnna and I worked together at the book table where I was honored to have several of my mentors signing books right next to me, and we had a fabulous time talking to the many conference attendees.

Celiac Disease Foundation Conference (LA, CA) – No, I don’t have Celiac and I’m not gluten-free, but lately, I’m beginning to think I’m an honorary member of the gluten-free community. I attended this event as an Attune Ambassador and really had fun handing out organic cereal and probiotic chocolate bar samples (yeah, handing out chocolate samples is REALLY difficult (insert sarcastic tone here)). It was great to talk shop with the varied group of expo attendees, and a few even bought my non-gluten-free book! They had what looked like some incredible speakers at the event, and the expo was very similar in style and size to the Gluten-Free Allergen-Free Expo. I only wish the trip hadn’t been such a whirlwind. I flew in the night before, worked the conference from 8am to 4pm, and flew out at 6pm. Next year I’ll make sure to book some extra time to hang out at Universal Studios.

BlogHer Food (Atlanta, GA) – I really enjoyed being on a panel (that’s me chattering away) at this event, seeing a few great blog friends, and meeting some new faces. I found some of the controversial posts on BlogHer Food fascinating. I definitely didn’t think this event seemed “high school” as several reported. Conferences do involve quick meetings and mingling, which can easily make it seem surface-y (particularly when there are groups of people who already know each other), but you have to take from the time what you can. I met some very wonderful people there, and never felt like anyone was rude. Just a lot of different personalities as one might expect. I did wish that the food during the event and the venue location had been better (Sarena of The Non-Dairy Queen (co-panelist and good friend!) informed me that there are some happening foodie spots like Midtown in Atlanta, but the event was hardcore downtown with virtually no activities, restaurants, or even people and it was the weekend!). However, I thought the after-party on the last day was pretty great, with much better food and a very lively atmosphere. Because the food and venue were so much better at the BlogHer Food in San Francisco, I have to give last year my top vote – but other than that, they were very similar. Overall, the BlogHer Food team is awesome, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go next (Pick  Seattle! Pick Seattle!).

Straight-up, I won’t be doing three conferences (across the country no less!) in one month again if I can help it. By the third one, I was worn out, pretty impatient, and not able to mingle and enjoy the people as much as I would have liked to. I just wanted to be cuddled up at home in the northwest with my cat and husband. But, now that my exhaustion has worn off, I realize that I don’t want to write off these events forever. I just need to manage the time a little better.

Oh yes, and I’m not done yet! I will be speaking at the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in three weeks. I think I will be fully recharged for that one though.
After this month … I’m bound and determined to make it to Expo West in Anaheim next year, I’ve missed it Every. Single. Year. But from there, I’m keeping an open mind, and would love to hear your own thoughts on all of these events that seem to be popping up …

How do you feel about attending blogging and food events / conferences?
Are you attending any in the near or not so near future?
Any that you recommend? Or not?

Shirley, Heidi, Alexa, and Me resting and noshing on healthy snacks at the Gluten-Free Allergen-Free Expo between events.


Filed Under: What's Leftover

Comments (25)


  1. you have been busy, all those conferences sounded like a great time and opportunity

  2. I agree with you in that there’s good and bad in every conference. And that one can overdo the conference thing! I think it’s all about balance. Glad to hear that you’re recharging. 🙂

  3. AndreAnna says:

    I loved being your “bitch!” 🙂 It was fun to be able to help you guys at the book table and meet so many people.

    Like you, I enjoyed the social atmosphere of the GFAF Expo a lot mroe than BlogHer Food but I learned a lot more and found better networking at the latter.

    I would love to go to the Fitness one too but, like you, I just can’t put more on my plate. It’s kind of nice to have the summer be just about my home and family, ya know?

  4. Kelly says:

    WOW Alisa! You have been busy!

  5. Evan Thomas says:

    I’ve only attended one conference, but I loved it and can’t wait to do it again. They’re so much fun, and you get to learn and experience in a way online blogging can’t. If only the travel and accommodations weren’t so much money then I’d go to as many as I can.

  6. one is good, 3 is not…not in one month any way, oh i would concur!

    conf’s are something of the “more is not necessarily better” variety.

    being able to really look forward, savor, mingle, etc is awesome but too many can make you just wish you were at home and a hermit! i think all traveling, for me anyway, is like that.

    i did a post about 4-5 days ago about conf’s, retreats, workshops and discussed it all there (my thoughts i mean)

    thanks for the reviews on these!

  7. I thought I couldn’t attend the Fitness Blogger Conference in Boulder, but now that I look through my schedule, I might attend, especially if you’re speaking. Hmmm? I’ll be back in town on June 22nd, then I leave again on the 27th. I might just squeeze this one in, especially since it’s just down the road from me. =)
    I’ll keep you posted. Would love to see you!

  8. Joanne says:

    So great to read your opinion on all of these, especially Blogher Food. I went to BlogHer last year (not Food, just the regular one) and I wasn’t super thrilled. But that may have been because of the, uh…varied…population of attendees. I did have tons of fun with the food bloggers I did meet, but the whole atmosphere just wasn’t my thing. I’m hoping to go to IFBC this year so we’ll see whether or not it’s a different experience!

    • alisa says:

      As many say, the years seem to alternate on what is good! I’ve heard good things about IFBC though, and it is reportedly more “gourmet” than BlogHer, so I think you will definitely like it 🙂

  9. Me again. Just doing some check, check, rechecking. I might go to the conference on the day you’re speaking! I’m trying to figure it out right now. =) Would love to reconnect! I’ll let you know.

  10. Linda says:

    You have been a busy girl! It was great meeting you at BlogHer Food. Wish we had more time to talk. I would have loved meeting more gluten free bloggers at the GF Expo, but that just didn’t happen. My thought this week after looking at all my expenses is that conferences sure do cost a lot!

    • alisa says:

      You aren’t kidding! Some definitely more than others though. Hopefully we will see each other again at another event as I definitely wanted to chat with you more, and was already pretty wiped out in the social department when we finally met at BHF.

  11. Ricki says:

    Sounds like quite the whirlwind (and love that last photo–was amazing company you keep!) 😉 Still wishing I could have made it to at least one of them, too.

  12. Katie says:

    I’ve never been to a blogger event. To be honest, they scare me a bit…

  13. I cannot believe what you managed to do this last month. I would have been completely work out! You are amazing, missy! And since of course I know that I am included as one of those amazing ladies ;), I have to tell you that hanging with you was one of my fave parts of the GFAF expo too!

  14. That photo at the end made me smile. 🙂

    Glad you got to experience ALL of those conferences but wow, that’s a lot. What great exposure to new people and new ideas! I can’t wait for the one at the end of this month. So much good is going to come from it. I can feel it. 😉

  15. I would actually like to do more in the future. I can see that as being a bit much for such a short time frame though! I know it was rough for you. It was so great hanging out with you though!

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