There are a handful of chocolate festivals around Colorado, but the most unique is held every year at the Winter Park Resort. My friend, Diane, and I stumbled upon this festival quite by accident a few years ago while on one of our spontaneous trips. It wasn’t our original destination, but it certainly was a wonderful (and tasty) surprise!
My friends (Donna, Deb, and Michele) and I took the trip this year through the mountains, over Berthoud Pass, not only to enjoy chocolate samples in a stunning setting, but simply for a girls’ day out. (Don’t you agree we just need one of those every now and then?) It was opening day of resort’s summer activities as well, so Alpine Slide—here we come! (Be sure to check out the fun at www.winterparkresort.com.) I showed my friends some of my “favoritest” places along the way, including a rushing waterfall next to an old section of Hwy 40. The mountain scenery along Hwy 40 from I-75 to Winter Park is absolutely breathtaking no matter what time of year it is. No wildflowers blooming yet, as the snow was still melting at the higher elevations, but lush green foliage was everywhere. The sun shined down on us as if to say, “Have a FABULOUS day, ladies!”
Upon arriving at Winter Park Resort, we found what, Donna, called “a rock star spot” at the front of the parking lot with the ability to drive straight out upon departure. A sort of aerial lift, named “Cabriolet” by the resort, takes passengers from the upper parking lot down the hill directly to the Resort Village. (The lift is also one of my favoritest things!)
The Chocolate Festival was in full swing, so after a brief pause for a photo op on the lap of the Coca-Cola bear, we purchased our taste tickets and proceeded to enjoy all the event had to offer. A Colorado band called The Trubelos were playing some fabulous music in the gazebo (You know it’s good music when the vendors begin dancing!) as we sampled some of the delectable chocolate samples the vendors had to offer.
Soon, a contest began in which children (There was a contest for adult participants later as well!) were about to smash their faces into lovely individual mountains of chocolate pudding placed in front of each of them. Covered in their garbage bag tunics, the kids waited for the starting signal in eager anticipation. The moderator finally gave that signal and the children opened their mouths as wide as they possibly could, filling said mouths with creamy goodness. As the children finished licking their paper plates, the end signal was given and the kids stood straight to exhibit their smiling, chocolate-covered faces. One boy was stretching his tongue out to clean up as much of the chocolate around his mouth as he possibly could! He must be an expert at pudding eating because his paper plate was clean as a whistle and he was declared the winner.
There were other events throughout the day, such as a chocolate naming contest and a chocolate eating demo (Sort of like wine tasting! There is definitely a method.), and a chocolate crown contest (Who wouldn’t want a crown made of chocolate?).
The chocolate samples came in many forms—brownies, fudge, formed candies, cupcakes, truffles, etc.—all displayed in a tantalizing manner at each booth. If you liked what you were tasting, the vendors were happy to sell you some to take home. My personal favorite is Robin Chocolates. Check out Robin’s journey to Chocolatier (She was actually allergic to chocolate as a child and served 14 years in the Navy!) at www.robinchocolates.com. While all the artisan chocolate samples at Robin’s booth were delicious, the Raspberry Heart is absolutely one of my new “favoritest.”
Other vendors selling wares such as soaps and lotions and jams and jellies were also scattered throughout the venue. One vendor demonstrated how to make meditation bowls sing and to feel the vibrations in our hands. I’ve seen these bowls as large as a human being and was always fascinated by them. This was the first time I was able to actually try one. (I was going to go back and purchase one later, but forgot. That moment when you mentally kick yourself.)
After a brief chocolate indulgence, my friends and I decided we’d have some lunch before completely spending all our tickets to stuff ourselves with more chocolate. There are about eight eateries at the Resort Village to choose from, each one bringing their own magic to satisfy one’s palate. We chose Doc’s Roadhouse and were seated on the upstairs patio so, as Donna said, “We can see more.” (Of course, I felt compelled to make several jokes throughout the day regarding Donna trying to find someone named Seymour.) With a fabulous server and great food, we conversed about so many things throughout the meal and laughed ourselves silly.
Our day certainly didn’t end there, and there is more to tell (like the Alpine Slide!), but as this post is getting a little long, I’ll end it there for now. Suffice it to say, this day is on my list of ‘Best Days Ever!’
Do you have a ‘Best Days Ever!’ list? Please share!