Our Maker Faire Adventure

Posted by Karlton Sheley on

Ohhhhhhhhh what a Faire it was! OK, so I’m going to break this down into several parts. If you don’t read the whole excited mess of a post, don’t worry… there won’t be a quiz at the end.


For those of you that really want to know, but don’t want to read…

Pros: Someone wants me to make them a carrot cake, learned about a new egg replacer, Kim Dow one of the crew members, Kate (another crew member), Tammy-Jo (another crew member), Reid, kids with nut allergies, parents that almost cried seeing their kids get a treat, people that want to collaborate, Shopify, bringing awareness of these sorts of conditions to a bigger audience, learning there are people who really do need us, meeting people that are excited about what we do and where we go next, signing books, I scared 2 ladies with the speaker system and we got to have a great laugh about it, meeting a guy allergic to vanilla, meeting a lady allergic to stuff who has a 5 year old that inherited her allergies because I was able to make her a custom new flavor, meeting a lady that was allergic to potato, meeting a corn-intolerant lady, meeting a corn allergic person, and as if it couldn’t get any better, WE WON A RIBBON!!!! <<< that I didn’t even know existed :)

*Pictures are at the end. 

Cons: The many mask malfunctions we had, I never got to leave the booth to see the fair which is ok given the mask issues, the fire hazard a couple of days before the event, my voice is gone, there’s a cut/scar/bruise on the bridge of my nose from wearing the mask for so long and having to have it so tight, and there are sores on my head from the mask. As you can see, the biggest con for sure is having to wear a mask. My hands have also fallen apart from having to wear gloves which were causing an allergic reaction.


Things I can’t wait to have again: sleep, and a clean house (yeah right, with all these kids, who am I kidding?)


OK. Day 0. Thursday, Set up.

It was a somewhat terrible day. I didn’t get much sleep the night before, and as anyone with my type of condition knows, rest is super important. I also realized that I had 28 hours of work to do that day. The printer that we use that always delivers on time, if not early, their presses went down and our press kits wouldn’t be ready in time. That’s ok. We only had 2 press people as far as I know, so I guess that product was unnecessary for this event. I had a bunch of little last minute things to do, including go to the city to pick up a special drink order so I would have something to drink throughout the weekend. I wasn’t able to order water, and we were all out.

Going to the site itself was so interesting, and surprisingly calming. The Papa took a long time to get things set up, so I left him there with everything while I went home to continue getting things ready.

Day 1. Friday

Didn’t get to bed until 1am. It was more like a nap. We made Paleo Dessert Cups through the night, and finished up as many last minute items as possible. We ran out of time, and didn’t really get to finish everything in my grand vision which was fine, considering we didn’t sell everything that we had.

We were supposed to get up at 3am, but I overslept. Got up at 5. I feel like these are too many little details. Let’s fast forward.

Showtime was 1pm. Get this. Christine, myself, and Kid Two all get there at 1pm!!!! How insane! The Papa and Rochelle had been there for a while delivering all of the things I had sent ahead of them.

Friday was designed for press and school groups. I got to work hands on with several kids, and the girls especially enjoyed decorating cupcakes with me. A lot of the kids didn’t have money to spend, so that was totally ok. There were a few kids with allergies that I was able to serve, and that was a welcomed thing. That’s why we’re here yanno.

So. Get THIS. Corn-Intolerant Mom!!!! Yes. I know. A group comes up, I ask if there are any allergies, and someone says corn. I’m like, shut the front door! Then they clarified. It was the mom. I’m like, where is she?!?! Fine her!! I have to meet her!!! Sure enough, they find her and bring her back to the booth. I was star struck. I’m sure she thought I was so weird, raving over a corn allergy. It’s just, you don’t meet these people that often. It’s like meeting a celebrity in my book.

Hmmmm. Friday. What else? OHHHHHH!!!!! Reid!!!! Super cool little kid, he suffers from EOE like I do. It’s a rare thing, and his mom was just about in tears getting to meet someone that gets it, AND who was able to serve her child a treat. They were over the moon. If I remember correctly, she made one of the first book purchases. She may have been the second. It was SO cool. like SOOOO cool to be able to meet him and make him feel special. Rewind. Tammy-Jo! That lady is so awesome. Remember how we showed up “late”? Well, the car is in the middle of the road, we’re waiting for The Papa to bring a cart, and he’s taking a looooonnnggg time because he had to walk to his car to get it. Along comes a crew member telling me I need to move my car, and I’m like, oh hay!!! Is that you Tammy-Jo?! She gives me this great big hug, helps me unload, and gets us moving. Totally awesome. OK. back to the other stuff.


Day 2 & 3 Saturday and Sunday

I have to lump these two days together because it all went so fast, I don’t want to mix up which days things happened on. I’ll try to do Saturday first, followed by Sunday.

So on Saturday, we got there much earlier. We found that we were standing in chaos on Friday, and needed to get everything reorganized. It worked wonders. They also changed how they were doing samples. The Papa hooked me up to a microphone and speakers since my voice was gone. I was ng to yell from inside the mask so people could hear me, which meant I had nothing left. The speakers were a bit chinky though.

Now that I had speakers, it was easier, but people were still struggling to hear me. I was asked at least 300 times what the mask was for, and was finally able to get it a succinct 2 sentence summary. That made things much easier. The hard part was watching people walk by, point, laugh, etc., but it sure shut them up once they heard why I had the mask. I noticed anyone that was laughing became apologetic. I think it’s easy for me to feel like a sub-human at times, simply because I’m trying to breathe and not collapse…

Through it all, I met SOOOOO MANY people with a food issue. People were shocked to hear that we were gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, vegan (except for the bacon bits on one of the toppings). The icing on the cake (haha) was the nut free kids. About 10 or 12 people came through with food allergies, and then they’d save nuts for last on their list. Once someone on the team said they had nuts (we used almond milk for the Faire), they would get so sad. Then they would be told to go see the chef (I know, can you believe they trust me with that title?) and I could make something special. Their faces would just light up. We’d go over allergies again, and sure enough, I could feed their kid. They were thrilled and over the moon. They were the ones that were on the verge of tears. I had all the nut free stuff away from everything else. Even had some peanut allergic kids come through, and their parents were so appreciative of my process, that I did EVERYTHING else, and made the peanut icing last. In fact, we didn’t even pull it out at the event. On the fly, I made a new flavor, chocolate chip cupcakes. It turned out to be one of the top sellers at the Faire.

Speaking of top sellers. They were: Creme Cookie Cupcake (GF DF EF “Oreo” mixed in), Peppermint, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate, Maple Bacon, and get this, the goofy S’more brownie that I made up 2 days before the Faire. That one still makes me laugh because I was just trying to find a way to save the brownies… I also torched them on the spot with a culinary torch. People were really into that.

Ok, some cool highlights of the weekend… I met a lot of people with very interesting stories. One guy was allergic to vanilla. In all my days, I haven’t met someone like that, unless I include myself. Sadly, everything I brought had vanilla, except for the chocolate chips and bacon bits, so I sent him with some of those. It’s funny because each person that came by with something, I was determined to feed them… I met a lady that couldn’t have nightshades amongst other things. So, the potato starch in the cupcakes and cookies were out. She got to have drops of icing and chocolate chips. I met several kids that couldn’t have a combo of nuts and something else. I was able to feed them too. I was able to connect with them on a whole new level, and told them, don’t worry, I got you. I made a few torched s’mores for nut allergic people. They loved that. I also came up with a new one on the spot - Cookie Cupcakes. Kids with a specific set of allergies got to have these made for them, and then they got to help me decorate them with chocolate chips. I kid you not, these were the parents that were the most grateful. Yeah, the more the allergies, the more grateful they seemed to be. What floored me was that they were unaware of some of the products I was using, so I was able to tell them all about different things, and where to buy it. It really made me realize we’re on the right trail.

There were SOOOOOOOOOO many people that took samples and simply raved at how delicious everything was. One guy bought 4 chocolate cupcakes, and came back for more, and came back again the next day. He also told his Celiac sister to stop by. That was way cool.

Then there’s Sharon… Corn allergic. SO cool to meet her. Was able to talk about all sorts of fun things, and was able to sign a book for her too. I was able to talk shop with several people that knew what I do - there’s something about how America is processing food that’s making so many people sick. Yup, I’m looking at you Monsanto et al.

A few people were interested in the catering aspect, and several people asked where they could buy our product locally. No one could believe that we started the company 8 weeks ago. I mean, we’ve been doing this for 15 years, but now it’s official. By the way, it’s really cold in this room where I’m typing, just like at the Maker Faire. OH! Let me tell you. So on Friday, I hadn’t put on my sweater with the logo, and an internal Maker press guy too my picture! I was happy, then I felt silly. The team really wanted me to wear the chef coat, but it was cold and windy. I did brave it on Sunday and wore it all day then.

Overall, the hardest thing for me personally were the mask malfunctions. We made the mistake of trying to change the filters at the booth with me holding my breath. This however disrupted the seal with my face, and would let fumes in. My tongue was swelling inside the mask, and we knew something was wrong. One day, I had to leave a bit sooner than I wanted because of a malfunction. Essentially, I couldn't open my eyes and The Papa had to guide me out. It was the most excruciating pain, like having someone try to rip your eyes out with glass, and that was from a minor bit of exposure. Needless to say, we had to figure it out. At one point, we found a connection that was a bit loose, so we made it tighter, and that's what caused the lovely cut on the bridge of my nose. We also realized I had to strap it on tighter than normal to make sure the seal wouldn't be disrupted at all. Even with the failures, the mask was, well, amazing. There's NO WAY I could have done this without it. I do want to work with 3M on designing something custom...

OK, I realize this is getting winded, so I’ll try to wrap it up with the best story. Well, one of the best. No, two because I just remembered another thing I have to tell you about. OK. SO we won a ribbon!!! How cool is that?! It’s called Editor’s Choice Award. The lady told us that in each section, they’re allowed to give a ribbon to a booth that speaks to them, so it was SUCH an honor to be selected.

Now for the end of the show. So, at the end of it all, we had food left over, and as I’m cleaning up, a girl that looked like she was in her teens came over with $1.26. She said she didn’t know if it would get her anything. Cookies were $1, and cupcakes were $1.50. She left with 12 cupcakes and 3 cookies. And yes, I took that $1.26 and added it to the tip jar. She just lit up. It was so cool to make her day. There was another straggler with $2 who wanted to by something nice for her helpers. She left with several as well. OK, that’s not even the part I wanted to tell you about. Kate. So Kim Dow, the wonderful lady who puts together the Homegrown Village brings Kate over to meet me. At the time, I was putting together boxes of all of our leftover items, and making more with some icing I had. I wanted to give them to the crew at the Maker Faire as a thank you for what they do. I wanted to make sure they knew they were appreciated. OH. And Tammy-Jo came back and I got to meet her daughter who can’t have sugar. OK. Back to Kate. So she comes over, and she’s gluten and dairy allergic, and I’m like, well, you came to the right place. I asked if she was local, and she wasn’t really. SOooooooo, I loaded her up with 6 sets up cupcakes, a pack of torched marshmallows, and several Paleo Dessert Cups. She was telling me that they always have cake at the crew party and she gets none, and I’m like, not this time! She was so overwhelmed she was in tears. We had to hug it out for a minute. She was so cool. And them Tammy-Jo sent a golf cart to come get me so we could deliver treats. And then we did. They were just so cool. And theeeennn, I got to meet one of the founders of the Maker Faire and give him cupcakes, and they were telling him how cool I was, and then I ran into the lady that gave us the ribbon and gave her more packs too. Basically, everybody got something yummy to eat.

And that sums it up… everyone got something yummy, no matter what their food struggle was. It was phenomenal, overwhelming, and a huge learning curve. Ohhhh the things I’ve learned. The biggest thing I learned was just how awesome our team is. Growing up, I didn't get to call many people friend, but this group is just WOW. You know you've got something good when they stay up all night to make Paleo Dessert Cups with you. And the laughter we had! Especially Saturday morning. It was just so funny the things we came up with.

Now, I have SO much to do to keep things going. Since there’s so much interest, the team and I are taking all of the necessary steps to keep this going so we can keep feeding people that need it the most (and the other people too). If you made it this far, good job. Pat yourself on the back.

Here's the awesome team doing what we do best! Having a good time :)

The Allergy Chef with Sharon, who's also allergic to corn

That's me with Sharon, who's allergic to corn too!!!

Free and Friendly Foods Won an Award!

sorry, couldn't rotate that one, so just rotate your head :)

May your tummies be warm, and faces be happy!
~The Allergy Chef

Karlton Sheley

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