Chocolate Festival Comes to Hamilton

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Rachelle Ehrman

“Not too many places have a Chocolate Train Wreck Festival … it brings people in from out of town, shows off our little town,” member of the organizing committee for the Hamilton Great Chocolate Train Wreck Festi-val Art Zimmer said. “[It] lets them see what we got here.”

The tradition of the Great Chocolate Train Wreck Festival dates back to September 27, 1955, when a train including a car filled with Nestle chocolate crashed in Hamilton. The massive crash occurred when the train was thrown from the track and into a coal shed after seven seconds of flight. When the dust cleared, the car carrying the chocolate had spilled its contents onto the ground for easy pickings.

“We went down and loaded our pockets with chocolate,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer’s family owned farmland along the train tracks and was a participant in the collec-tion of the fallen candy. As word spread of the crash, children from all over Hamilton came and collected as much candy as they could carry.

Fifty-seven years later, the kid-centric aspect of the event has continued to be in-corporated into the festival, making it an enjoyable experience for the whole family. This year’s festival included a Chocolate Fam-ily Fun Zone with chocolate finger painting, train rides, bouncy castles, a movie tent and live music. Children under 17 years old were also able to participate in an activity in which they went to different shops around town and were given a card to get stamped in exchange for free chocolate. When their card had five stamps they turned it in to be entered into a raffle for a basket of goodies.

“Its great,” vendor Kathy Sabino said. “It’s a fun thing to do on a September afternoon.”

“I liked the festival. It was really interesting to see the people of Hamilton. I enjoy[ed] the overall ambiance of the festivities,” first-year Andrew Kil said.

Though the festival is heavily focused on fam-ily fun, it serves a variety of purposes including stimulating the local Hamilton economy.

Zimmer agrees, adding that he also hopes it will make people want to come back to Hamilton in the future and continue to spread money to the local businesses.

The festival had “been sporadic until four years ago,” Zimmer said and the “total [fes-tivals] since 1955 is only nine or 10.” But it looks like things are becoming more perma-nent, the festival has been annual for the last four years and there are no plans to change that any time soon.

Contact Rachelle Ehrman at [email protected]