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February 2, 2014

About 3,000 festival goers delight in chocolate from 22 vendors at 39th annual Chocolate Festival

NORMAN — The ballroom at the National Center for Employee Development was buzzing with excitement Saturday as individuals drifted from vendor to vendor taste testing a variety of chocolate treats.

The 32nd Annual Chocolate Festival featured 22 vendors this year, all showcasing a number of sweet treats including cake, truffles, ice cream and more. There were even some unexpected edibles available.

Volunteer Lesha Maag tried some chocolate chili at the event describing it as spicy, but sweet and savory. While she hadn’t been to the festival since she was a little girl, she said the experience is something she plans to repeat.

“It was really fun,” Maag said, adding that she plans to volunteer again next year.

Proceeds from the festival are used to support the visual arts education, exhibits and programs offered by the Firehouse Art Center in Norman.

Douglas Elder, executive director of the Firehouse Art Center, said he estimated this year they have had their biggest turnout yet. Ticket sales were right on target and there were a lot of walk-ins keeping everyone busy throughout the entire day, he said.

“I estimate there were about 3,000 people here today,” Elder said.

The Chocolate Festival originally started at the Firehouse Art Center, outgrowing that building and moving to the high school before it found a home at the NCED. Elder said he is thankful for their partnership with the NCED which provides a wonderful space for the event.

“Frank Barry provided the music today,” Elder said. “After getting their chocolate, people can go in front and sit a quite a nice area and listen to music.”

As vendors surrounded the walls of the ballroom, there were also numerous activity tables to engage individuals in some creative art. A free photo booth also attracted the crowd, as several struck silly poses with available props.

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