{May 29, 2012}   Not Your Typical Hot Chocolate

What do you do on Memorial Day weekend when the forecast calls for high temps in the 90s? Start the sprinkler? Pack for the pool? Make a beeline for the beach?

Not us. We headed to ChocolateFest in Burlington, Wisconsin. This 4-day festival celebrating all things chocolate draws more than 35,000 visitors each year. I’d never attended and was determined to get my chocolate fix despite the hot weather.

When we arrived in town, a bank thermometer read 103°. At the gates, the mini candy bars taken straight from a cooler and handed to us with a festival schedule started melting as we unwrapped them. The heat dashed any hope of carting home bags of chocolate, but didn’t stop us for heading straight for the Chocolate Experience Tent.

There, Dylan enjoyed a free Nestle Tollhouse cookie, then eagerly lined up to uncover treasure at the Chocolate Chunk Dig. With a plastic chisel and rubber mallet, he chipped away at chocolate rubble in search of gems. Hands covered in melted chocolate, he struck it rich, finding one plastic jewel for himself and one for his brother. (Next year, it would be wise to dress the boys in brown.)

Also in the tent, we purchased a Chocolate Chip Taster’s Ticket, which allowed us to sample chocolate products from 10 different vendors. Among the items were chocolate-covered graham crackers, turtles, cookies, chocolate-covered dried fruit, fudge and chocolate-dipped licorice.

Introduced at the Wisconsin State Fair in 2009, chocolate-covered bacon has become regular fare at festivals. But I had yet to try it. The bacon offered here was dipped, but not covered, with chocolate.  Before I had a chance, Dylan grabbed the first bite and loved it. (Of course, this is the boy who suggested bringing bacon as a treat to his brother’s preschool class.)

I thought the mix of sweet and salty was delicious, too. Along with iced coffee, this could be breakfast!

Jamie had had his sights set on ice cream. After sampling chocolate gelato, he went for the wedding cake flavor instead. Dylan also seemed to have had his fill of chocolate and chose a dish of vanilla ice cream.

Had the weather been a little cooler, we’d have stayed for some of the other events, such as chocolate eating contests, chef demonstrations, children’s competitions (feed chocolate pudding to a friend while blindfolded!), a candy wrapper fashion design contest and more.

Like most festivals, there was plenty of non-chocolate food and lots of entertainment, including area bands, dance performances, magicians, hypnotists, comedy acts, carnival games and midway rides. We passed up the chance to get zipped into a hamster ball for humans. But I’m adding it to my list of things to try. (The hamster wheel, which had openings on the side for air to get in, looked a little more inviting.)

On our way out, we stopped at SmashZone, an exhibit hosted by the United States Tennis Association to introduce the sport to kids 10 and younger. Our boys spent a few minutes playing Mario Tennis Open on Nintendo 3DS in a nicely air-conditioned area. Then a tennis professional gave them a quick lesson on a small court. Kid-sized racquets and balls that bounce lower, don’t move as fast and are easier to hit made the boys’ first time playing tennis a positive one. And Dylan thought having his photo taken in front of a green screen and made into a magazine cover was pretty cool, too.

We’ll be back next year. And in the meantime, Dylan won’t have to do much convincing to get me to agree to make our own chocolate-dipped bacon.

Want to know more about my 47 and fearless project? Check out my first post.


Tina says:

I don’t like going places anymore, but this sounds really fun for well adjusted people who get out. Omg. The human hamster ball after loading up on rich chocolate goodies…the oompa loom pas would have to carry me away!

Ha! I can picture you as the Blueberry Girl, but chocolaty brown with a point on your head like a Hershey’s kiss! It was too hot to load up on lots of chocolate, or I would have. And I really wanted to do the hamster ball, but since there didn’t seem to be air holes in it, I figured with the hot sun above, I’d cook like an ant under a magnifying glass. I’m sure I’ll get another chance. Or perhaps buy my own hamster ball. (Might make a good baby-sitter. LOL)

tina says:

Too funny. Daddy, help me! Love the chocolaty brown image patterned after spoiled girl Veruca Salt (love that name) turning into a blueberry. Maybe I would be rolled away and Johnny Depp would have to lick the chocolate off to get me back to normal.

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