For the Central Valley, the weather in the third week of May is a wild card — you get either rain or shine — and this year there was plenty of shine for the 25th annual Oakdale Chocolate Festival.
Held Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21 in downtown, the chocolate festival drew more than 45,000 people eager to peruse the vendors in the hopes of discovering something unique or delicious — or both.
Mary Guardiola, Oakdale Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the hot weather kept a few people from coming out but overall, the attendance was good.
“With the heat the numbers were down a little but we had a healthy turnout in spite of the weather,” Guardiola said.
Several new vendors set up shop this year, which included a company out of Stockton, Fusion BBQ, that offered chocolate egg rolls and Lugg Around, a company out of Modesto that offered custom-made dollhouses made from luggage.
Also new to the chocolate festival were: Planet Cookies, based out of Monrovia, Treats By B, based out of San Leandro, Blossom Road, based out of Waterford and Learn and Play Fabric books, based out of Mariposa.
Following the event, Guardiola always checks in with vendors to see what worked and what needed improvement.
“Our vendor comments this year were pretty much the same across the board. It’s a well-run event and the quality of the patrons was good. There were even some who said that the weather didn’t get as hot as it was predicted, which was good.”
Guardiola added, many of the patrons and vendors have been attending the festival for more than 10 years and they have no plans to stop.
“We’re already looking forward to 2018 and encompassing the new community park with additional activities,” Guardiola said.
Although the heat did melt some of the samples on Chocolate Avenue, it didn’t seem to stop people from scooping up offerings from the many vendors plying their delicious wares, from pies to “fookies” there was something to delight even the most discerning sweet tooth.
As always, the kid-friendly event drew plenty of families eager to take advantage of the variety of events suitable for the younger generation from carnival rides to gold panning to pony rides to wild trampoline fun.
And of course, shaved ice with plenty of gooey syrup.
For 6-year-old Sadie Sherwood, blue raspberry is her favorite shaved ice flavor because, “It tastes good!” she said, showing off a tiny grill of blue-stained teeth.
As little Miss Sherwood demonstrated, the Oakdale Chocolate Festival is the right amount of fun, no matter the weather.