NORMAN — Chocolate and art lovers rejoice: The 32nd Chocolate Festival, the Firehouse Art Center’s annual fundraiser, is back.
Scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 1 at the National Center for Employee Development (NCED), 2801 State Highway 9 East, the event features thousands of chocolate-inspired treats from local vendors.
Firehouse Executive Director Douglas Shaw Elder said the event is the Firehouse’s only fundraiser and acts as both a way to raise funds, educate the public about what the Firehouse does and promote arts education awareness.
With over 4,000 children participating in Firehouse in-house and public school art programs in 2012-2013, Elder said attending the festival is an easy way to support local arts.
“Not only is it a beloved community event, but attending the festival supports both adult and children arts education,” he said.
During the festival free art activities will be available for both adults and children. Firehouse faculty and University of Oklahoma fine art students will be on hand to demonstrate and discuss the children’s and adult art education programs offered at the Firehouse and in local schools.
Elder said the activities, including foil sculpting for both adults and children and the “Creative Cube” project for children, help encourage imagination and creativity. The ultimate goal, he said, is that participants will discover an interest in art that may or may not have existed before creating their work at the festival.
Parents are encouraged to submit photos of their child’s cube to the Firehouse Facebook page. The most “liked” cubes will win one of three scholarships in each age group.
Past awards for the Chocolate Festival include “Best Food Festival” multiple times by the Readers’ Choice Awards from The Norman Transcript, and as the Best Charity Event from “Oklahoma Magazine.” It has won the Frontier Country Grand Award for Outstanding Food Festival in Central Oklahoma, has been ranked third among food festivals in the U.S. by TV’s Food Network and has been featured in “Southern Living” and “Bon Appetite” magazines.
This year’s vendors include Abner Ale House-McNellie’s Norman, Café Plaid, Chocolate Fountains of OK, Custard Factory, Earth Fruit Yogurt, Eskimo Sno, Freddy’s Frozen Custard, Holiday Inn Norman, La Baguette Bakery and Café, Legends Restaurant & Catering, LOCAL, Lohmann’s Good Things!, Michaelangelo’s Coffee and Wine Bar, NCED Café, University of Oklahoma Catering, Panera Bread, Sam’s Club, Scratch Kitchens & Cocktails, Sprouts, The Candy Basket, The Diner and Unique Confections.
Planned chocolate samples from vendors include cheesecake, brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries, custard, snow cones, custard, cake, truffles, cookies and even chocolate chili.
LOCAL owner Melissa Scaramucci said the restaurant is returning to defend winning the title of “best sample” last year. In 2013 the restaurant did both a buffalo dish and a drink. This year they are focusing on another savory dish: coffee-cocoa crusted buffalo with chocolate barbecue sauce.
Scaramucci said the event is a great way to support the arts, enjoy a treat and discover new and old Norman vendors and restaurants.
“The Firehouse just does the best job with arts education, for adults and children,” she said.
Premiere tickets offer 15 samples for $40 10:30-11:30 a.m. Standard tickets offer 10 samples for $25 during later, half-hour sessions. Tickets may be purchased at normanfirehouse.com. After Jan. 24, tickets will only be available in person or by phone at the Firehouse Art Center, 444 S. Flood Ave., or at the door the day of the event.
For more information visit normanfirehouse.com.
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