By Miss October 2014, Deborah Brauser
I LOVE that October is “Guilty Pleasures” month for the Arkansas Women Bloggers. And what could qualify as the very top of that list? How about going to a Chocolate Festival?!
Since moving to Arkansas 4 years ago, and its River Valley 3 years ago, I’ve been to a LOT of different annual festivals – including the wacky but soooo fun Elvis Haircut Day in Fort Smith.
But most of my favorites have centered around food. I’ve stomped competitively at the Altus Grape Fest, eaten a ton of bacon 2 years in a row at Petit Jean Meats’ Bacon Bowl, watched children chow down on can after can of gooey green stuff at the Alma Spinach Festival, and even tried a small (very small!) bite at the World Champion Squirrel Cook-Off in Bentonville.
But I’m afraid my guiltiest pleasure is chocolate. So I was excited for last week’s Friends of the Fort Smith Public Library Chocolate Festival, which was held at their Dallas branch to help raise funds for special library materials and programs.
The organizers have nicknamed this yearly event the “Willie Wonka Festival” for good reason. As soon as I walked in, there were chocolates of all types everywhere I looked. Platters of cookies and brownies, jars of candies, elaborately stacked cupcakes, tiny parfait cups, and plates of bon-bons, truffles, cakes, and giant chocolate-dipped marshmallows were lovingly laid out in ways that made me want to dive in head first.
And the smell! Really, is there anything better than “Eau de Chocolat”? The set-up was pretty simple. One $7 entry ticket could be traded for 6 food tickets plus a plastic to-go box, and each chocolate sample cost 1 of the food tickets. However, this was the second time I had attended this festival and had learned a few lessons. The biggest was that trying to cut down my choices to just 6 wasn’t going to cut it.
So, my Mom and I bought 2 entry tickets each — for a total of 24 sampling tickets! And then we went to town, filling our first boxes with what we thought were the best options. We then took a break, took bites of a few of our own and each other’s choices, and then went back to fill our second boxes with (for me) repeats of the best or of interesting things I missed the first time around to take home or (for my Mom) samples to take home to my Dad.
Each of the roughly 20 booths/tables was manned by a different local business or organization. In fact, I read that anyone who could provide 200 samples of a chocolate option could have a booth. (Which means I may try to get a client to enter this next year. What a sweet way to hand out tasty goodies along with a company brochure. 🙂
Were any of the samples I tried not great? Yes. One was pretty dry and another was a little too minty. But the others were absolutely divine, with my favorite being the dark chocolate and caramel drizzled popcorn with bacon sprinkles on top. And because all of the proceeds were going to such a nice cause, I didn’t end up feeling all that guilty after all!
Why yes I am enjoying the chocolate-bacon popcorn!
What type of chocolate would have been your favorite? Or better yet, share a link to your favorite chocolate recipe. Yum!