Heaven for All Chocolate Lovers in Fairfax

Fairfax’s 26th annual festival is Feb. 2-4.

The only thing better than a two-day chocolate festival is one that lasts for three days. The City of Fairfax learned that last year when it added a Friday night event, Liquid Chocolate, to its annual Chocolate Lovers Festival. And it proved so popular that it’s returning this year.

Featuring everything from cakes to cookies, cupcakes, candy, ice cream and fudge, the City’s 26th annual Chocolate Lovers Festival will be held Friday, Feb. 2, from 6-8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 3, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 4, from noon-4 p.m.

“The festival is a longstanding tradition in the City,” said Fairfax Mayor David Meyer. “It is a time between the December holidays and spring when hundreds of residents come together with many loyal visitors from the region and out of state to celebrate chocolate. Seriously, what better way is there in the middle of winter to lift our spirits than with chocolate?”

In fact, for the past six years in a row – every year this survey has been held – Fairfax’s Chocolate Lovers Festival has placed first in the category, Best Food Festivals in the Northern Region, by readers of Virginia Living magazine.

The centerpiece is the Taste of Chocolate, where attendees purchase samples of delicious chocolate treats from two floors of vendors in Old Town Hall. Another highlight is the Chocolate Challenge, in which both professionals and home cooks compete to see who can make the most beautiful and creative chocolate sculptures, cakes and cupcakes.

Throughout the festival, children and adults will enjoy a full slate of fun-filled activities. There’ll be musical performances, fairy tales, magic, juggling, face-painting, a cake walk, fire-safety puppet show, Chocolate Caper mock trial, cupcake-decorating and open houses in historic buildings.

All venues are handicap-accessible, and the Chocolate Express will provide free, fully accessible shuttle service between event locations. It’ll run Feb. 3, from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Feb. 4, from 11:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Only certified service animals are allowed inside any event site.

LIQUID CHOCOLATE AND PANCAKES

The Feb. 2, Liquid Chocolate event goes from 6-8 p.m. and features an intriguing assortment of chocolate libations. It’ll be held inside a heated tent on Old Town Square’s upper parking lot, 3999 University Drive. And because it’s so much fun, it’ll return on Saturday, Feb. 3, from 1-6 p.m.

There’ll be beverages for all ages, ranging from chocolate soda, hot chocolate and chocolate tea for children to chocolate wines, beers and martinis for adults. Admission is free; alcohol tastings are $2 each, nonalcohol tastings, $1 each.

Participating will be: Twin’s ACE Hardware, offering chocolate soda; Earth Fare, organic chocolate milk, hot chocolate, spicy hot chocolate and dark hot chocolate; Crossroads Tea Company, chocolate tea; The Wine House, wine and food pairings; Adroit Theory Brewing Co., chocolate beer; Forge Brew Works, chocolate stout; and Spotlight on the Arts, chocolate martinis.

And as always, Saturday’s festivities will begin with the Kiwanis Club of Fairfax Pancake Breakfast. From 8 a.m.-1 p.m., enjoy regular or chocolate-chip pancakes, sausage, coffee, juice and milk, at Fire Station 3, at 4081 University Drive. Cost is $8, adults; $4, children ages 4-10. Children 3 and under eat free with a paying adult (limit two children per adult). Face-painting will be available for $2/child.

TASTE OF CHOCOLATE

The festival’s signature event, the Taste of Chocolate, will be held Feb. 3, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Feb. 4, from noon-4 p.m., in Old Town Hall, 3999 University Drive (corner of Main Street and University Drive). Strollers may be left on the front porch; a fully accessible entrance is at the door on Main Street.

Admission is free; visitors buy pogs for $1 each and then browse vendors’ tables to see the wide array of chocolate treats being offered. They purchase them with pogs and may buy as many pogs as they want from roaming volunteers in red aprons.

Paradise for chocolate lovers, the variety of goodies includes chocolate candies, bars, brownies, cakes and fudge, chocolate-covered strawberries and ice cream. And one of the biggest hits each year are the chocolate fountains into which customers may dip fruit, cream-filled doughnut holes or marshmallows.

The vendors will be: C & D Sweets, CakeLove, Cakes by Shelby, Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates, The Capital Candy Jar, Capitol Chocolate Fountains, Chocotenango, Confection Connection, Dave’s Candy Kitchen, Diestro LLC, HB+M Chocolate, Le Papiyon Chocolatier, Marinucci’s Gelato & Pastry, Mike’s Fudge, Pacari Chocolate, Salazon Chocolate Co., Schokolat, Sugar Mama’s Ice Cream and The Sweet Life Cakery.

CHOCOLATE CHALLENGE, CAKE WALKS

The Chocolate Challenge is a display of creative and imaginative chocolate sculptures, cakes and cupcakes. It runs Feb. 3, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Feb. 4, from noon-4 p.m., at 10427 North St., in the former Pacers site at the corner of North and University. Admission is $1/adults; children under 18 are free. A designated stroller-parking area is outside the building.

Both professionals and amateurs participate, and entries are judged in various categories. This year’s judges are Mayor Meyer, City Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Salgado and Victoria’s Cakery President Michael Hensley. And visitors may use their admission ticket to vote for the People’s Choice Award winner and participate in the silent action of challenge entries, plus items from local businesses.

In addition, cake walks will be going on throughout the day, Saturday and Sunday, in Old Town Square. Participants will have the chance to win cakes.

COOKBOOKS, VALENTINES, SCAVENGER HUNT

Chocolate Lovers Festival Cookbooks ($10) may be purchased at both the pancake breakfast and the Taste of Chocolate.

The official, 2018 festival valentine features the Legato School. Drawn by local artist Jackie Liedl, these limited-edition valentines cost $5. Each includes a coupon for five $1 pogs to use at the Taste of Chocolate. Buy valentines at City Hall, 10455 Armstrong St., room 123 (Parks and Recreation Dept., 703-385-7858); Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center, 10209 Main St. or from any member of the Independence Day Celebration Committee. Or find them during a scavenger hunt at downtown businesses.

Take a walk around Fairfax’s historic downtown and collect 10 of the 14 hidden clues. Every completed hunt will be entered to win a Chocolate Lovers Gift Basket. A map will soon be posted at www.chocolatefestival.net to help people navigate to the scavenger hunt locations.

Each location will have a poster with a photo of a previous Chocolate Lovers Valentine. The answer to the clue is the name of the featured building or business on the valentine. All completed sheets must be turned in at the Ratcliffe-Allison House by Sunday, Feb. 5, at 4 p.m.

GETTING AROUND

The Chocolate Express provides free, fully accessible, shuttle service between event locations. It’ll run Feb. 3, from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Feb. 4, from 11:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Pick-up locations are: Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center, Fairfax Regional Library, Fairfax Historic Courthouse (Saturday only), Fire Station 3 (Saturday only), Legato School Museum, Old Town Square and Old Town Hall.

In addition, The City of Fairfax Cue bus system will run its regular routes during the festival. For more information, see the City of Fairfax Transportation Department Webpage.

GRANT RECIPIENTS

Each year, the Chocolate Lovers Festival Committee chooses a charitable organization to receive part of the festival proceeds. The honorees are entities that contribute to the common good and the community at large. This year, two recipients were selected – the Fairfax Library Foundation and the Stroke Comeback Center.

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