Lewisburg celebrates 12th annual Chocolate Festival

Brenna Amick, 3, takes a bite of Shoney's chocolate ice-cream cake at the 12th Annual Lewisburg Chocolate Festival Saturday. (Jenny Harnish/The Register-Herald)

Last call!

Today is the final day for advance sales of Tasting Tickets for the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival. Although there will be an extremely limited number of tickets sold onsite beginning at 10 a.m. the morning of the festival, advance purchases — either online at https://www.lewisburgchocolatefestival.com/buy-tickets/ or in person at the Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center in downtown Lewisburg — are encouraged.

While admission to the festival on April 13 is free, Tasting Tickets will be the only currency accepted for the event’s centerpiece — the Tasting Experience, which offers some 40,000 individual bites (or sips) of chocolatey goodness between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tasting Tickets are sold in packs of five for $5.

Most of the Tasting Experience venues are inside downtown Lewisburg’s shops, galleries and restaurants, and the decadent morsels on display range from candies, cookies and sundaes to bread puddings, whoopie pies and cheesecakes.

Not to be missed is the annual chocolate art display inside Harmony Ridge Gallery. This year’s stunning artwork, created by The Greenbrier Sporting Club’s head pastry chef Alyssa Mayor and her culinary team, is themed around the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” and includes the Sorting Hat, Marauder’s Map, wands and golden snitch, all made of chocolate.

The culinary teams will also serve up two chocolate desserts at Harmony Ridge — “Hogsmeade’s Famous Butterbeer Tarts” and “Harry, Ron and Hermione’s Daily Espresso Patronum.”

For those who prefer a beverage with their chocolate, Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company will set up shop outside the Washington Street Pub with Zona’s Revenge Witbier served with chocolate bark. Robert’s Antiques will serve up Moscato dessert wine in a chocolate cup, and inside the “Old Hardware” building, visitors will find Hawk Knob Appalachian Hard Cider & Mead offering a choice of chocolate-infused cider or mead.

Those looking for a one-stop Tasting Experience will find just that in the Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center, where the Greenbrier East High School National Honor Society will offer Oreo truffle balls, the Davis Stuart ProStart Culinary Program will have candied orange peels dipped in chocolate and brownie bites, the Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center will serve up custom truffle pops crafted by Holl’s Chocolates, and United Way of Greenbrier Valley will tempt tastebuds with white chocolate clusters with pistachios and cranberries, and dark chocolate clusters with peanuts and raisins.

And those are just a few of the 34 venues throughout town that are participating in this year’s Tasting Experience. Visitors are encouraged to check out the list (and upcoming map) at www.lewisburgchocolatefestival.com showing all of the “tastes” and where they can be found.

And while the Tasting Experience is the main event, there are plenty of other free chocolate-themed activities at the festival for the whole family to enjoy.

Among the festival’s free activities for youngsters are street performances, a children’s read-aloud on Friday evening, a free screening of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and face painting.

Adults may attend a pair of free chef demonstrations, featuring Tammy Jordan from Fruits of Labor Inc. making chocolate-dipped coconut bonbons, and Leen Kim from The Omni Homestead Resort making gilded marble bonbons. Chef Tammy’s demo will take place at noon inside the Visitors Center, while Chef Leen’s will be staged at 1 p.m. in City National Bank.

A chocolate bake-off and mousse-eating contest are also among the entertaining events slated for Saturday.

Several downtown restaurants get into the spirit of the festival by offering special chocolate-themed entrees and desserts on their weekend menus. This year’s participating restaurants include The French Goat, The Asylum, General Lewis Inn and Stardust Café. Reservations are suggested.

The United Way of Greenbrier Valley is the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival’s charity partner, benefiting from ticket and t-shirt sales after reimbursements to vendors and festival expenses are paid.

For further information, visit www.lewisburgchocolatefestival.com or check out the festival on Facebook.

— Email: talvey@register-herald.com

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