This Columbus Day weekend is bound to be a sweet one as the Art of Chocolate Festival celebrates its fifth year at Featherstone Center for the Arts.
The three-day festival will feature many varieties of treats — hand-dipped, handmade, nutty, gooey, fudgey and fruity. They will be made by Island chocolatiers Chilmark Chocolates and Murdick’s Fudge. Liz Kane, of Cakes by Liz, will be there with chocolates too, as will a newcomer that Featherstone is very excited to add this year — Rickards. The Vineyard couple behind Rickards, Kate and Gates Rickard, are better known for their amazing bread, which can be found at Cronig’s among a few other Island stores; at the festival they will be making chocolate sculpture, chocolate mousse and cakes.
Off-Island chocolate-makers setting up at the festival include Chocolate Cheers, from Kingston, N.Y,, and Dorothy Cox Chocolates, from Fairhaven, bringing their specialty — chocolate-covered cranberries.
The chocolate fountain (and fruits for dipping into it) will be back. “It is our most popular among the guests,” says Featherstone executive director Francine Kelly. Another popular item Ms. Kelly mentions is the ice cream sundae, which is a favorite for kids, and adults seems to enjoy it as well. By Ms. Kelly’s estimation, 85 to 90 sundaes a day are served . . . wow!
Jeanne and Malcolm Campbell, who live on Main street, Vineyard Haven and in Montclair, N.J., are the founders of Featherstone’s chocolate festival. The Campbells have been involved with chocolate all their lives, from working in a chocolate factory to running a chocolate business; Malcolm was the vice president of the Van Leer Chocolate Corporation in Jersey City.
You could say chocolate runs in the family: their daughter, Jan Cambell, is the founder of the one and only Chilmark Chocolates. The festival really couldn’t be what it is today without the generous donations from Chilmark Chocolates, rave the organizers at Featherstone.
Jeanne and Malcolm had the idea of the festival five and a half years ago. The couple wanted to contribute to Featherstone, and they did it in the way they know best, using chocolate. Through the festival, the Campbells have given the community a great opportunity to come and enjoy Featherstone’s grounds and arts centers. People of all ages gather to participate in this wonderful event, while donating money to a good cause.
“The chocolate festival initially started out as an exciting way to get people aware, and to attract them to Featherstone, to also bring different groups of people together,” Ms. Kelly says. It worked — the chocolate festivities have been a great success over the years, and the event is getting more well-known each year. The festival has been known to have hundreds of people stop by each day — at some points there are long lines out the door, just to get in.
The festival also will have games such as Guess How Many Chocolates Are in the Jar, and, because it’s an election year, Vote for Your Favorite Chocolate (milk, dark or white).
This year’s prizes and gifts are better than ever; the festival celebrates its fifth anniversary with specialty woodworks, singular paintings, jewelry, gift certificates, and a silent auction.
The festival will be open Saturday, Oct. 11, through Monday, Oct. 13, from noon to 4 p.m. each day, and a donation of $5 allows you two tastes, or you can get five tastes for $10.
Tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. there is a preview party open to any donors who, for $50, get an array of chocolates, champagne and chocolate martinis.
For chocoholics, kids or grownups, the chocolate festival is a delicious adventure, so bring your sweet tooth this weekend to Featherstone Center for the Arts, in Oak Bluffs. It’s on Barnes Road, a quarter-mile north of the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road four-way stop. For more information, call 508-693-1850.