Annual Chocolate Festival offers a sweet day of fun

By Kitty LeShay - ReminderNews
Willimantic - posted Tue., Feb. 19, 2013
(L-r) Isiah, Miles, Jessica, Rose and Sabastien toured Main Street and sampled everything chocolate. Photos by Kitty LeShay.
(L-r) Isiah, Miles, Jessica, Rose and Sabastien toured Main Street and sampled everything chocolate. Photos by Kitty LeShay.

The ninth annual Chocolate Festival in downtown Willimantic drew people from the entire region. It was a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with family and friends. The event went off extremely well thanks to organizers who had to scramble to reschedule after the blizzard. 

More than 35 businesses participated in the Romantic Willimantic Chocolate Festival by giving chocolaty goodies to people visiting their establishments. Parents and their children seemed to enjoy the day as they sampled the treats and joined in the activities. “Eating chocolate is fun. My favorite thing was the bacon and chocolate pizza at Fred’s House of Blues and BBQ,” Isiah said, as he exited Cafémantic which served organic, spicy hot chocolate.

Activities included face painting at the Victorian Neighborhood Association, a bouncy castle at the fire department, a Valentine’s Day tea at the textile museum and a “Let Them Eat Cake” contest held at City Side Deli. “We hope to get even more participants in next year’s contest,” said contest organizer Ruth Hartunian. The winners were Rita Rivera for the theme cake, Cindy Fuller for the adult category, Gabrielle Lambert for young adults, and Hailey Desaulniers in the children’s class.

Lynn Duval has been the primary organizer of the Chocolate Festival for several years. “It is a wonderful way to promote our downtown area. There is so much to do, including two new events this year; the Cupid Shuffle, a road race, and the Hunger Bowls event held at and sponsored by the Elks Club, which raised money for the First Baptist Church where 400 dinners are served weekly,” she said.

The final event is usually the crowning of “cupid,” but due to the storm, Karen Gilbransen had been crowned the previous week. Instead, the Chocolate Lovers’ Soiree and Cabaret held at the Arts at the Capitol Theater was the grand finale, with 140 people enjoying truffles, hand-dipped fruit, chocolate soup and soda, and everything else chocolate.

Thread City Development, Willimantic Renaissance, numerous sponsors, and dedicated volunteers helped bring the Chocolate Festival to the public.

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