From sweet confections to savory treats, it’s a chocolate lovers dream come true with 13 miles of everything chocolate from Moclips to Ocean City during this year’s Chocolate on the Beach Festival (COTBF) from February 21-24. And with the “Out of this World” Sci-Fi theme that includes the appearance of fun characters from the PDX Superheroes Coalition, a recipe contest, a costume competition, classes and demonstrations, and more, it’s a recipe for the perfect weekend with friends and family.
Stephanie Allestad, dubbed The Chocolate Lady, is the president and coordinator of the COTBF. She works tirelessly along with other volunteers to bring the most unique chocolate experiences possible to the festival each year. “My vendors know that I’m looking for that chocolate item that you never thought was even possible,” Allestad says. “There’s this girl, Purdy Organics, and she has created a chocolate brine for her pickles.”
Purdy Organics is a new vendor this year alongside Grimm Brothers Foods who creates savory items like chocolate hot sauces. Grimm Brothers will be hosting a new class on Friday at 6:00 p.m. to teach others how to ramp up recipes using gadgets like Instant Pots and air fryers.
There will, of course, be traditional chocolate goods, such as delicious fudge and truffles, created by talented chocolatiers. Guests can sample and explore wares from both local vendors and those who have traveled from all over the Pacific Northwest to participate. The festival also takes care to post a list of vendors that provide vegan, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, and more options so everyone can easily know how to find what may be their new favorite chocolate treat.
Chocolate on the Beach Schedule Highlights
Dinner and a show will get the chocolate flowing on Thursday, February 21, at the Ocean Crest Resort with other events starting at the Navy Getaways Pacific Beach. The people’s choice voting also begins Friday with categories like the annual Chocolate Cocktail Throwdown, Chocolate Coffee Throwdown and other themed entries at participating businesses. At the community center on Friday, guests can see chef demonstrations that run throughout the duration of the festival.
Be sure to catch Brother Bliss of Blissful Wunders, based out of Olympia. He will not only be a vendor, but also hosting classes and is always an attendee favorite. “Brother Bliss is on Saturday night, that’s just an all-out party right there,” Allestad says. “He does the whole bean, to bar, to chocolate, and he’s actually gone to the rainforests where they grow the cacao, so it’s educational and also fun.”
Something people won’t want to miss out on is the chocolate recipe contest with the categories of sweet, baked goods, desserts, best of theme and savory that are all in need of participants. The competition takes place on Saturday morning with all of the applications and rules available online. No pre-registration is required and there are divisions set for all ages and culinary levels, including a new division for culinary students. Trophies are given out, so bring in a dazzling recipe and show it off in a friendly contest. “There’s a lot of fun categories and savory is my favorite,” says Allestad. “I’ve tasted everything from chocolate chili to cocoa encrusted elk to white chocolate whipped mashed potatoes. It’s just amazing.”
The love of chocolate knows no bounds as people travel from as far away as Canada to attend the festival with over 50 percent of the attendees coming from outside of Grays Harbor. And if people stay at any of the participating accommodations, they get a festival program first and are also entered into a Golden Ticket drawing where they have the chance to win a gift certificate for a stay at one of the accommodations.
The festival really is all fun and chocolate, but it is first and foremost a fundraising event with over $40,000 raised over the years and invested back into the local community for historical, educational, and community needs. This year’s grant recipients are the Museum of the North Beach, the Green Lantern Lunch Program and KXPB-LP 89.1 FM.
Admission for the weekend is $5 for adult, $1 for teenagers and free for children. Everyone will be given a new bracelet each day they attend. Sunday is also free admission for law enforcement, fire and EMS, 9-1-1 dispatchers and all branches of active or retired military. “This is just our way of saying ‘thank you,’” Allestad says. “They deserve it.”
For a detailed schedule of events, prices, accommodations, free shuttle routes, and more, visit the Chocolate on the Beach Festival website. Also consider downloading the free “Chocolate on the Beach” app for easy festival navigation on the go.
A sneak peek into next year: “The Magic of Chocolate” will be coming to town next year, anything from Hogwarts to magicians is a go for February 27-March 1, 2020. The COTBF team is always in need of volunteers, so be sure to get in touch via e-mailing email@example.com next time the festival comes around and receive a free T-shirt with four hours of volunteer time.