“Experience the Magic of Chocolate” is the theme of this year’s Chocolate on the Beach Festival this weekend in Pacific Beach.
This annual family-friendly festival will include vendors, cooking demonstrations, contests and much more from Thursday through Sunday at multiple locations.
Admission bracelets, good for the whole weekend, are $5 for adults and $1 for kids. (Separate fees apply to some of the related events.)
Ride the Wave Tours, an Ocean Shores company, will provide free shuttle service all day Saturday, connecting six event locations: Pacific Beach Elementary School, Navy Getaways Pacific Beach, Grays Harbor Fire District 8 station/North Beach Community Center/Seagate Restaurant, Ocean Crest Resort, Green Lantern and Seabrook.
“It just makes it nice to have that alternative,” said event organizer Stephanie Allestad. “We’ve tried to get Uber and Lyft involved, but the problem is the cellphone reception out there.”
The Vendors Hall of Sweets, as always, will be set up at the elementary school Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Allestad had hoped to expand the vendors into a second location this year, but those plans were nixed when a Jan. 7 fire destroyed the Ocean Mist room at Navy Getaways. “We were going to be able to put 16 more vendors over there, but …” she shrugged.
In addition to plenty of familiar treats from previous years, visitors will be able to purchase chocolate-brined butter pickles (“You’ll have to try it!” Allestad insists), chocolate-covered strawberries coated in colorful luster dust (“It’s basically like an edible glitter”) and more.
Demonstrations and workshops will be offered Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the North Beach Community Center. Topics range from using chocolate as a spice to making sea-salted caramels to helping honeybees.
New this year will be a kids workshop with Kambalamba Slimes, where participants can mix up their own slime with chocolatey smells and textures. The first 20 kids ages 6 to 16 will be able to participate Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Community Center.
Costumed mythical characters from Portland will be appearing at the various sites — including Groot, a favorite from last year’s superhero-themed festival.
“He’s actually been working on his costume to make it a little lighter,” laughed Allestad. “The guy that’s in there is a pretty good-sized guy, and he’s not a young one. So I’m really impressed how he gets around on those stilts.”
Myth- and magic-themed movies will be shown all four days in the Sea Breeze room at Navy Getaways Pacific Beach. Admission is free, but children 16 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Navy Getaways also will host various craft sessions throughout the weekend, such as the Brush and Bean — a painting party with chocolate espresso beverages.
The public can cast votes starting at 4 p.m. Thursday for the Chocoholics People’s Choice Awards (the Battle of the Bean and the Chocolate Cocktail Throwdown). Ballots must be turned in by noon Sunday at Pacific Beach Elementary.
The Battle of the Bean is on at Lone Tree Espresso, Navy Getaways, Surf House Espresso and Ocean Crest. Participating in the Chocolate Cocktail Throwdown are Ocean Crest, Green Lantern, Seagate and the Windjammer Bar, which are offering specially created chocolate shots, martinis and specialty drinks with such magical monikers as “The Unicorn” and “The Drink that Shall Not Be Named.”
Entries for the chocolate recipe contest will be accepted Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Pacific Beach Community Church, next door to the school. Entry fees are free for children 17 and younger, $5 for adults (18 and older), $10 for culinary students and $25 for professionals.
“We added the culinary division last year to kind of expand the contest,” said Allestad. “We used to have so many kids in the competition, and then they grew up!”
On Sunday, admission is free for those in public service: first responders, law enforcement, 911 dispatchers, and active and retired military.
There’s much more, with the Ocean Crest and other local restaurants hosting related culinary events. For a locator map and a detailed schedule, visit www.chocolateonthebeachfestival.com.