he Great Chocolate Festival celebrated its sixth annual gathering this past Saturday, September 20. The festival began as a way to honor a train wreck that took place in Hamilton in September of 1955. A train from the Ontario & Western Railway Company crashed into a shed and the chocolate in transport spilled everywhere. Local children were quick to take advantage of all of the “free” chocolate.
The Great Chocolate Festival was very child-oriented, providing bouncy houses and a tent dedicated to toy trains and activities such as puppet making. Children raced from booth to booth, buying samples of chocolate and laughing with their siblings and friends. Parents expressed an appreciation for the festival.
“It’s a great community event combined with kids, fun and chocolate,” Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education team (COVE)
advisor Karla Loveall said.
Vendors also enjoyed being a part of the Great Chocolate Festival. Hosted by the Partnership for Community Development, the festival supports local businesses by featuring their products in different booths. Vendors had the chance to get more exposure to residents of Hamilton, an experience many found appealing.
“I participate because I like to converse with the public and get more publicity, and I make contacts,” vendor of the Irish Dreams Cookies Colleen Bogan said. “Anything you can do to get people together … You feed them and they’ll come.”
These businesses sold samples of their chocolate-based desserts and foods for 1 dollar each. Samples included chocolate chip cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered strawberries and even chocolate-covered bacon, courtesy of Ray Brother’s BBQ. Good Nature Brewing made a special chocolate flavored beer and wine specifically for the Festival’s adult crowd.
Besides providing stations for kids and chocolate samples from local vendors, the festival included a plaque dedication to donors Bill and Betty Galik. The Galiks donated land from the site of the train wreck to the town of Hamilton. Alternative folk musician Denny McCormick began performing after the dedication.
“It was very fun. I love how there’s so much history behind this event and that it’s still celebrated. It really intensifies the small town feel of Hamilton,” said first-year Maria Cesarini.
Overall, the event honoring chocolate was a great way to bring the local community together.