BY: DANIELLE CARSON
Locals flooded the sidewalks in Belmont Shore Saturday for the Belmont Shore Chocolate festival, where the tastiest confections in town were showcased and gobbled up by happy Long Beach locals. Thirty-three businesses along East Long Beach’s popular second street participated in the 10th annual festival, celebrating not only chocolate but also the thriving independent business sector.
Packets of a dozen pink tickets were sold for $10, and used to buy treats like mini Pazookies, ice cream made with nitrogen, apple pie flavored candy apples, candy doggy treats and chocolate covered bacon.
According to Dede Rossi, the Executive Director of the Belmont Shore business association, sixty cents of every dollar earned from the sale of the ticket booklets went to the sweet shoppers themselves.
Like the regular Stroll and Savor event, the festival mainly served as marketing to bring attention to the best eats around.
Music and love joined the sweet chocolate aroma. Bands played while families perused between the tables and lovers fed each other chocolate covered strawberries and rich brownies.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory offered a complete list of treats ranging in cost from one to five tickets, from chocolate covered marshmallows, to berry tarts to whole pieces of cheesecake.
People would bypass booths, then, after a double take at what the business had to offer, trekked to the back of the line to wait.
The samples also brought business into the stores, with Frosted filling with cupcake enthusiasts craving more. Sweet Jill’s offered enormous pieces of rich cakes, brownies and cinnamon rolls.
Of the 33 businesses, all had their own unique appeal. Chad and Nicole Hyde, couldn’t remember a sample that they hadn’t liked.
“It’s chocolate, it can’t really be bad,” Chad said.
Most of the treats cost two or three tickets, which equated to about the same price, as it would be on any other day. However, the atmosphere was worth the price, as clouds had parted for a sunny Saturday, reminding smiling attendees of why Long Beach is the place to be.
In the midst of it all was a dessert contest, featuring decorative desserts from cupcakes to cookies being judged by the local gurus of the goods, the business owners themselves.
They judged on taste, presentation and originality, but surely were overstuffed from the richness of the treats by the time the winner was announced.
Following the baking competition was a pie eating contest, where youths of all ages gorged on mini chocolate pies, finishing with more on their faces than in their bellies.
Eight-year-old Landon Johnson screamed in victory when he won the title among others of his age, and 10-year-old Makena Margolin prevailed in her age group for the third consecutive year.
Whether you return next year to win one of the festive contests or for a taste of the sweetest part of Long Beach, the chocolate festival is a reason to appease your soul with a little Valentine’s Day spirit.