The fourth annual I Love Chocolate Fest in Old Bethpage promises to be more chocolaty than ever this year, extending its run to two days from one and adding live entertainment to the chocolate exhibits it’s relied on in the past.
WHAT TO TRY
About 80 exhibitors will set up shop in the main museum entrance building and the barn at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, with an additional 20 exhibitors outdoors and in the museum’s stables. Deborah Dufton, the event’s coordinator (and founder of featured North Fork Taffy), is excited about the offerings, which include chocolate in forms many people may not have tried or even dreamed of. There will be chocolate-covered bacon on a stick, soft pretzels stuffed with dark chocolate and cream cheese, and balsamic vinegar infused with dark chocolate. One vendor specializes in, yes, chocolate-covered crickets. Try a free sample if you dare. Larger bags will be available for purchase.
Freshly prepared chocolate treats are sure to be a highlight. Chocolate zeppole and funnel cakes (each made with chocolate batter) will be fried to order. Chocolate-stuffed wontons and empanadas will be available, too. Each exhibitor will have 1,000 samples to give away each day. In addition, products in various sizes can be purchased to take home or eat as you stroll.
For true chocolate gluttons, there is a chocolate doughnut speed-eating contest, Saturday and Sunday at 2:45 p.m. As if eating as many doughnuts as you can isn’t its own reward, the winner will also go home with a festival T-shirt, a giant marshmallow shish kebab and bragging rights.
In putting together the event, the organizers were determined to keep it local. All of the exhibitors, performers and staff are from Long Island. The setting, a re-created 1800s village, is “one of the most special places on Long Island,” Dufton says. A Chocolate Fest ticket will give you access to the entire Restoration, where costumed interpreters wander the grounds imparting knowledge about the past. Chocolate-focused activities that take advantage of the setting will include a scavenger hunt taking you through six buildings in the village, one being the district schoolhouse, where lessons on how cacao beans are grown and processed will take place throughout the day.
Santa will be on hand, and a variety of gifts and crafts will be for sale, for anyone who wants to get a head start on a chocolate-covered holiday. Look for chocolate-scented soaps and body lotions as well as chocolate-themed jewelry. Local cookbook authors will sign copies of chocolate-focused tomes. Several North Fork wineries are sending representatives who will advise about holiday gifting and recommend wine and chocolate pairings.
On the outdoor main stage, Long Island bands will play live music all day. Sip hot chocolate while grooving to techno artist Nebuilah on Saturday morning. Then enjoy some rockabilly by Billy Mira & the Hitmen on Saturday afternoon while eating chocolate-covered gummy bears. In between musical acts, “fire ninja” Kaitlyn Menet will perform with flaming hoops.
THE I LOVE CHOCOLATE FEST
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4-5, at Old Bethpage Village Restoration
INFO 631-488-0521, lovechocolatefest.com
COST $12 ($8 ages 5-12); $18 two-day pass ($12 kids)