Returning for its second year, the Kansas Chocolate Festival is sweetening the deal.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, in downtown Topeka all the favorites are returning: the MARS Nascar, various demonstrations and all the chocolate you can eat. However, there’s now even more to try.
New this year is a children’s play area. For a $10 wristband that’s good all day, kids can play in the bounce houses, the mobile gaming unit and even pet some puppies hoping to be adopted from the Helping Hands Humane Society. The kids section is taking over the 600 block of S. Kansas Avenue, and with it, a second live music stage will be added for parents to remain close by but still be able to enjoy something other than their children’s screams of joy.
The second stage will be in the 900 block of Kansas and will host various baking demonstrations throughout the day, from learning how chocolate is made to using it in everyday recipes.
Nick Xidis, a co-owner of Hazel Hill Chocolate in Topeka, will be the first demonstrator at 10:30 a.m., for his “chocolate from bean to bar” presentation. Being the sole chocolate store downtown, Hazel Hill is held to high expectations at the festival celebrating its specialty.
Terry Xidis, the other owner, explained that in addition to the demonstrations the store held in shop last year, it will also have two tents in front of the store, to help ease the congestion.
“We’re having pretzel dipping out front, Lays generously donated 2,700 pretzel sticks, and we’re providing the chocolate,” she said.
The second tent will be selling Hazel Pop — similar to caramel popcorn — and caramel and chocolate-coated apples. But Terry Xidis said she expects the free samples to disappear quickly.
Also new this year is the tasting room. For $1, guests can enjoy both local samples as well as tasty treats from chocolatiers from five different states. The indoor tasting will be held at 713 S. Kansas Ave.
“We sent applications to tons of chocolatiers throughout the United States, and when they heard about the success of last year’s festival they wanted to be a part of this year’s event,” said Rosa Cavazos, the director of tourism development at Visit Topeka. “So we’re just excited for a chocolatier from Florida to fly in and want to be a part of our event. They’ll also be a part of our Chocolate After Dark event as well, so it’s really cool.”
Other chocolatiers are from Texas, St. Louis and Oklahoma.
Chocolate After Dark is a new VIP experience at the Dillon House, 404 S.W. 9th St., where for $55 guests can sample more chocolate, enjoy chocolate-infused hors d’oeuvres, live music, and enjoy a relaxing night at The Dillon House. Admission includes a goody bag, which Cavazos said she was also excited about.
Topeka Metro will again donate rides to the festival, at 9th and Jackson St., but this year it will be picking festival-goers up from the Kansas Expocentre, One Expocentre Drive, to take downtown.
The chocolate pudding eating competition will be held on the 9th Street stage at 1:30 p.m., and the winners of the Kansas chocolate competition, a baking contest for cash prizes, will be announced at 2:30 p.m. Additional details apply for these contests, which can be found on VisitTopeka.com.
With about 40 food trucks and vendors set up around town, there will be plenty of free samples to chose from — as well as the goods being sold — but the organizers are all saying the same thing: “Come early, because when it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Contact reporter Savanna Maue at (785) 295-5621 or @CJFoodFun or @SavannaMaue on Twitter.
2017 KANSAS CHOCOLATE WINGED FOOT
Collaborating with the chocolate festival, The Combat Air Museum is hosting it’s 13th annual run, with a 4K/5K or 10K option. Held at the combat museum, the race will be a certified 5K flat course on the streets around Forbes Field.
When: 6:45 - 7:45 a.m. race day registration, pre-registration available now
Race begins at 8 a.m.
Where: Combat Air Museum, 7016 SE Forbes Ave.
Price: $28 pre-registration, $38 including T-shirt, $31 day of race
More Info: Click here.