For the first time since it began almost three decades ago, there won’t be any Oakdale Chocolate Festival this year.
Chamber of Commerce officials announced this past week on social media that they have had to cancel the event, as it just wasn’t practical to try to put it on amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was a tough decision, admitted new Chamber Chief Executive Officer Trisha Brown, but one she said had to be made.
The CEO said the continued ‘watch list’ status for Stanislaus County as one of the coronavirus hot spots in the state has made it too difficult to plan for an event that, by its nature, brings people together.
“The likelihood of it being approved was not good and to use resources to just get denied didn’t seem to be a smart way to go,” Brown said.
Traditionally, the annual Oakdale Chocolate Festival has been staged in May but, when the pandemic effectively shut down normal life in mid-March, organizers quickly had to make a decision. The festival was originally postponed until September but, with numbers still trending in the wrong direction, Brown said they finally just had to pull the plug for this year.
The 2019 event, meanwhile, dealt with unexpected heavy rain that rolled in and prompted some vendors to leave early, many not returning on Sunday of the two-day event.
“To go from last year, when it was partially rained out with all our vendors scattering to not having it at all …” Brown said of the difficulty in making the choice, but added that they also didn’t want to have vendors commit to an event that can’t be held.
She said they hope to be back stronger in May, 2021.
“Third time is the charm, I guess?” Brown said, chuckling.
They also are gearing up for the Taste of Oakdale, which is on the schedule for Thursday, Aug. 27 as a ‘drive around’ event as opposed to having vendors set up in the Bianchi Community Center.
More information on that event, including how to obtain tickets and the framework for this year’ s “Taste” will be included in the Wednesday, Aug. 19 issue of The Leader.