I heart chocolate. Who doesn’t love chocolate? For me, I am partial to white chocolate, but whether it’s in the form of cake, candy or melted down, I want it. I’m dreaming of the chocolate river scene in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Valentine’s Day would be fitting for a celebration of all things chocolate, but the first weekend of March is reserved for the Chocolate Lovers Festival. The annual event held in Old Town Fairfax brings the community together with a common love of chocolate. This March 2 and 3, 2013 marks the 22nd year of the festival.
While our family missed out on the eighteen events that occurred on Saturday, we heard that it was bonkers at the festival. That didn’t surprise us when we arrived on Sunday at opening time to the tune of a half a block line of people waiting to enter the Taste of Chocolate. The two floor space was crowded and hectic so I would avoid it with small children. Once inside, several people wearing red jackets were available throughout the area selling pogs. Cash is not accepted by the vendors so you buy pogs to purchase chocolate confectioneries. Pogs, similar to poker chips, are $1 each and items vary from 1 to 5 pogs. Pogs are non-refundable so only buy a few at first depending on what you want to purchase. As I mentioned, staff are visible through the crowds if you need to buy more pogs. We had to restrain ourselves after spending 10 pogs in a matter of minutes.
Willy Wonka eat your heart out! Chocolate is everywhere in the form of fudge, truffles, candy bars, cupcakes, cake pops, brownies, chocolate chip cookie pies, candy apples, popcorn, and the list goes on.
We started upstairs and made a bee line to Capitol Chocolate Fountains. Imagine two giant fondue fountains, one flowing with either milk or dark chocolate. Choose marshmallow, cream puff, banana or rice krispie treat to drown in a chocolate bath. Feel free to make a mess. The company provides wooden fondue sticks, napkins and plates. I let my daughter do the dunking while I did the eating! It was worth the one pog per item. I could have stayed there all day. That is until I noticed C & D Sweets. Oh my chocolate! Everything imaginable is covered in chocolate from fortune cookies to Twinkies. I was so excited to see white chocolate non-Pareils as they are my favorite candy and hard to find. Sugar free chocolate coconut and almond bark are also available. The Taste of Chocolate included sixteen vendors with nearly all of them being Virginia businesses.
If you are not a big fan of chocolate, Extreme Ice Cream offers pre-packed lidded cups of ice cream in a variety of flavors like Cherry Vanilla and Rainbow Sherbert. Free tasting is encouraged. Another vendor had lovely mini fruit tarts sans chocolate.
Our next stop was down the street to the Chocolate Challenge and Silent Auction. Admission is $1 per person with the money going to charity. Inside is a display of chocolate creations mainly in the form of sculpted cakes and cupcakes. From children to amateur and professional designs, guests can vote for their favorite work of chocolate art. My child chose the Chocolate Easter Bunny sculpture done by The Swiss Bakery while my husband and I selected the Spring Time Chocolate by Cake Fest. You would have no idea looking at the flower pot creation that everything was made from chocolate. The silent auction allowed visitors to bid on some of the Chocolate Challenge cakes along with gift certificates to local eateries, museum tickets, and more.
Free events for children of all ages include child fingerprinting, fire safety puppet show, Chocolate-Covered Fairy Tale, Magic with Turley, Animal Ambassadors: Journey to the Jungle, Cody & BJ: Let’s All Be Green, So You Think You’re Smarter Than A Lawyer? game, and The Chocolate Caper Mock Trial. We were bummed to find out that the art activities at the Adam Lister Gallery were cancelled on Sunday with no explanation why. The Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast and face painting charge a small admission fee.
Good to Know
- Strollers are not permitted at the Taste of Chocolate or the Chocolate Challenge. However, this is a designated stroller parking area outside the buildings.
- Parking is limited in many areas. There is a small parking lot next to the Main Hall next to the Taste of Chocolate. The Chocolate Express provides free shuttle service between event locations.
- There are several dining options on the same block as many of the activities including The Greene Turtle, Panera, and Potbelly.
The Chocolate Lovers Festival is usually held the first full weekend of March. Most family friendly activities are held on Saturday, but we enjoyed the fun offered on Sunday. The bottom line is that anytime is a good time to celebrate chocolate.