Large bars of handmade, organic and gluten-free chocolate are expected at any chocoholic event. However, the cacao bean can also be used to create rich lotions, savory sauces for prime rib and delicious cocktails.
All of these items and more can be found at the 7th annual Chocolate on the Beach Festival at Pacific Beach. The event kicks off tomorrow at noon and goes through Sunday at 4 p.m.
The event began as a fundraiser for the Museum of the North Beach, but has become bigger every year.
A $5 ticket buys a bracelet good for Saturday and Sunday in the vendor building at Pacific Beach Elementary and to see demonstrations at the community center. For $1, 13- to 17-year-olds get in and anyone younger is free. On Sunday, all emergency medical service workers, police, firefighters, active or retired military and 911 operators get in free.
Although many of the events are held at Pacific Beach Elementary, restaurants, bars, resorts and various shops in an eight-mile stretch of the North Beach are participating in one way or another.
Stephanie Allestad, “The Chocolate Lady,” is the president and coordinator for the festival and calls it a festival for families and single chocolate lovers alike.
“In all honesty, I want it to be affordable,” Allestad said. ” … That’s why many of the events and parking are free.”
Throughout the festival, North Beach shops are giving out tickets for every $10 spent, not including tax or sales on alcohol or tobacco products. These tickets may be entered at the information desk at Pacific Beach Elementary for a chance to win chocolate door prizes donated by various vendors.
Throughout the weekend, watch “Willy Wonka &the Chocolate Factory,” featuring Gene Wilder, “Charlie &the Chocolate Factory,” with Johnny Depp, “Chocolat” and a new release at various times Friday through Sunday. For $1, purchase a ticket to enter the raffle to win one pound of chocolate per month for the next year. The winner will be announced on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Those staying at participating accommodations (see website for full list) are given a golden ticket that gives them a chance to win a gift certificate for a future stay.
The festival takes place at various locations. On both Friday and Saturday, those 21 and over are welcome to sing karaoke at the “Gate” starting at 9:30 p.m. both days.
The Chocolate Cocktail Throwdown is also on again this year, giving patrons the chance to sample signature drinks from the Windjammer, The Mill 109 and the Seagate Restaraunt and Lounge to collect stamps and vote for this year’s best.
“That event has been hilarious,” Allestad said. “When I run into people that join in, I’m hearing about how they are working on this new drink or how they are sure to win this year because of this or that. It’s competitive, but in a fun way.”
On Friday, it’s free to bowl for chocolate prizes from 3 p.m. to midnight at the Pacific Beach Resort or catch a movie in the Anchor Room.
On both Saturday and Sunday, learn about wine and chocolate pairings starting at noon and decorate cupcakes for $2 each at Seabrook Town Hall. The Shipwreck Deli will be holding a fundraiser starting at 10 a.m. at Pacific Beach Elementary.
On Saturday, the festivities begin at the elementary school at 9 a.m., with entries in the chocolate recipe contest coming in until 11 a.m. There are four main categories: sweets — items such as truffles or bars; baked goods, such as cookies; desserts, such as cakes or pies; and savory, where they’ve seen everything from duck with dark chocolate cherry sauce to chili.
Chefs and every day cooks are entered into separate categories. The professionals win a traveling trophy they keep for a year before passing it onto the next festival’s winner. Blues singer Kim Archer will be a guest judge this year.
Children are also encouraged to enter, even if they use a mix for their recipes. There are two child categories, one for those under 10 and those over 10.
“We want kids to participate and make something they can be proud of,” Allestad said.
There is also the option to be part of the cookbook the festival committee hopes will be printed by their tenth year, she said.
At 10 a.m., visit the Seabrook Town Hall for a silent auction that goes until 6 p.m. At 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. there are two cooking demos at the North Beach Community Center with another on truffles from noon to 3 p.m. at Iron Springs Resort cabin 2. Learn about wine and chocolate pairings at Seabrook Town Hall from noon to 6 p.m.
On Sunday, listen to The PB Group, enter an all-ages chocolate eating contest at 2 p.m.
For more information and a printable event guide visit chocolateonthebeachfestival.com.
Alexandra Kocik: 360-537-3928 or email@example.com and @DW_AKocik on Twitter