Skies were bright blue on Saturday morning, May 18 but the storm clouds rolled in a little later in the day and the weather continued to be problematic on Sunday, forcing an early closure for this year’s edition of the Oakdale Chocolate Festival.
Presented each year by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce, the event draws in visitors from throughout the state for the festivities, which include music, vendors, food, rides and games, and chocolate in a variety of forms.
“Before the rain came in Saturday afternoon there were 13,000 that attended,” Oakdale Chamber of Commerce CEO Mary Guardiola explained.
It was the first time in recent memory that the mid-May weather was an issue.
“Twelve years ago I remember closing a few hours early on Sunday, but that is all I am aware of,” Guardiola added.
There were some new additions this year, however, that added to the fun feel of the event.
“Chocolate being handed out to all paid entries was appreciated,” Guardiola explained. “Theme characters Spiderman, Ironman, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Rapunzel on Saturday were a huge hit along with the HALO photo booth.”
Also new, a trackless train was enjoyed by both kids and adults and Guardiola said there were more chocolate booths in the park this year.
“The beer area offering only microbrews was new and well received,” she added.
All of those new features from this year, she said, are expected to make a return – hopefully along with the sunny weather – in 2020.
“Unfortunately, Sunday we were not open very long before the storm came through,” Guardiola said. “The decision to close was for vendors and patrons safety with the next storm expected soon. We sincerely apologize.”
Weather watchers reported more than three-quarters of an inch of rain fell in the Oakdale area on Saturday, starting at mid-afternoon, and nearly as much fell again on Sunday, though the storm system blew in that day at mid-morning, prompting the early closure for the festival.