This year’s 7th Annual Lewisburg Chocolate Festival is promising to be bigger and better than ever before, with many fan favorites from past year’s events, as well as many more new additions sure to sweeten anyone’s disposition. Chef demonstrations, live entertainment, numerous tastings, children’s story telling, a chocolaty 10K walk/run, the list goes on and on when it comes to the varied events and entertainment awaiting visitors during this year’s festival, scheduled for Saturday, April 13th. Cindy Lavender-Bowe, a festival committee member: “While the focus of the event is all things chocolate, each year the festival’s proceeds benefit a local charity. This year it is the United Way of Greenbrier Valley. Eat chocolate and support more than 30 local nonprofits – How cool is that?”
The festival weekend swings into action with a Chocolate Brunch at the Greenbrier County Library on Saturday, starting at 9am. The Greenbrier County Airport picks up the pace a bit hosting a 10K HospiceCare Chocolate Chase Race, also scheduled to begin at 9am. While many of the chocolate tasting vendors and retailers are still making last minute preparations, the bake off is getting under way at 10am at First National Bank.
Judging for the bake-off takes place at 11am, which also happens to be that magical hour when the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival’s Tasting Extravaganza kicks off, and the chocolate really begins to disappear. Luckily, napkins exist for such a needed and joyous occasion, and are provided throughout the festival grounds.
Dominating the talk and taste of the town this early spring weekend is the Chocolate Tasting Extravaganza, which is in such high demand, tickets for the tastings continue to sell out year after year. Monica Maxwell, committee festival member, had this to say about the much touted and highly sought after tasting event, “A must-do at the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival is the Tasting Extravaganza! Every year, visiting chocolate companies, restaurants, cafes, retailers, and non-profits out do themselves by presenting an amazing array of chocolate tastings, from savory and sweet candied almond salt bark to decadent chocolate mousse cake. There’s also mini chocolate martini and chocolate pecan clusters covered in caramel. The quality and variety is top notch! You don’t want to miss this!”
Favorite chocolate tastings from year’s past include The Bakery on Court Street’s Death By Chocolate Mini Cupcakes, Washington Street Gallery’s Bad Ass Beer Brittle, The Wild Bean’s Espresso Brownies, Yarid’s Chocolate Shoes, Del Sol’s Chocolate Mini Martinis, Show Your Color’s Chocolate Covered Strawberries, and Carnegie Hall’s DeFluri’s Truffles available at the former Stonehouse General Store, just to name a few.
Examples of vendors new to the festival, or who have chosen to feature a new tasting for this year’s event include: the Greenbrier Sporting Club’s Belgian Chocolate Tarte with Blood Orange Caramel and Chocolate Ganache as well as Milk Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Bites Dipped in Toasted Oreo Crumbs at Harmony Ridge Gallery, Serenity Now Outfitters offering Gourmet Apples, Strawberries, and Cake Pops by Sticky Finger Apples, The General Lewis Inn & Restaurant’s Chocolate Brownie Pies by Phyllis, and Wolf Creek Gallery featuring Laderach Festive Pralines. For a full list of tasting locations and featured items for this year’s 7th Annual Lewisburg Chocolate Festival, click here.
We’ve been told many times that one can only eat so much chocolate, but based upon experience sharing in this festival since its inception, our eyes tell us differently. People love chocolate! A testimony to the witnessed turnout of indulgence is none other than the Chocolate Mousse Eating Contest, held this year at Bella Casa. Contestants will be broken up into three different categories, which will be based upon age. The contest will be held from 1-2pm, and there is no charge to participate.
If you do happen to reach your limit on the sweet stuff, there is no need to worry, because the Chocolate Festival is so much more than just gorging oneself on delectable delights. Live entertainment surrounds and is integrally ingrained within the festival, livening the mood and energy during this already positively charged occasion. The Wild Rumpus will be playing the Greenspace area beginning at 11am, while the newly formed band The Weight will also be pleasing audiences here at 2:15pm and then at The Wild Bean, 7:30pm. The Irish Pub on Washington will feature authentic Irish music by the likes of Patrick O’Flaherty, as well as serving up chocolate beer specials, such as Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout.
Master international entertainer and local hero El Gleno Grande will once again return to the festival, putting on a show that is destined to make you laugh out loud with a chocolaty smile.
Balloon makers will be on hand to enlighten the kid’s imagination and creativity, while other street performers, such as stilt walkers, may also make a guest appearance.
Several more non-edible delights await visitors to this year’s festival. The North House Museum offers a free self-guided tour of The History of Chocolate Exhibit from 11am-4pm. Returning again this year is The Lewis Theatre’s popular showing of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. Prior to each movie showtime at the theatre, Trillium Performing Arts will present a live movement theatre production by Devon Preston titled, “Dinnerbell”. This short family friendly piece is scheduled to be shown at 12pm and 3pm.
Carnegie Hall will put a nightcap on Saturday’s festival events when they present their piece “Dance Brazil” at 7:30pm. Tasting tickets for the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival are limited and on sale now at lewisburgchocolatefestival.com or in person at Greenbrier Valley Baking Company, 110 S. Jefferson St.; Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center, 200 W. Washington St.; Harmony Ridge Gallery, 209 W. Washington St.; and Honnahlee Toy Store, 117 E. Washington St.
The Lewisburg Chocolate Festival is sponsored by MonPower, a First Energy Company; Chapman Technical Group; and Shoney’s of Lewisburg.
– Craig Miller, LBSPY #30 (April 8-22, 2013. Featured photo: Sticky Finger Apples by LBSPY.