Knoxville’s sweetest festival will return Saturday.
Chocolatefest is an annual celebration of chocolate, but it’s not just empty calories -- the festival works with candy vendors to raise money for local nonprofits.
Chocolatefest started over 25 years ago, but eventually went on hiatus. Thanks to Knoxville’s candy fans, the event returned. After many updates and rebrandings, Chocolatefest 2019 is slated to be held downtown in the World’s Fair Exhibition hall.
Among the people responsible for Knoxville Chocolatefest’s revival is Jennifer Johnsey, owner of local event planning company Night Moon Productions.
“We have live entertainment almost the whole time,” Johnsey said.
At 10 a.m., the Little Miss Chocolatefest Pageant will open. Anybody age four to ten is invited to dress up and take a walk across stage.
At 11 a.m., country musician Shaun Abbot will perform and bluegrass folk Christian band Ready for Rain will perform at noon.
The Southern Taps Clogging Company will perform at 1 p.m., the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet and dance center will perform at 2 p.m. and Kid's Dubstep and Hip Hop with Greg Carney starts at 3 p.m.
General admission tickets are available with a $5 donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Knoxville, but a limited number of tasting tickets are available for $25. These tasting tickets allow attendees to participate in one of five tasting sessions where they get to sample chocolate from local vendors, but general admissions ticket-holders are welcome to shop from attending booths.
In addition to chocolate, there are merchants selling gifts and goods such as soaps, crafts, and cutlery. Chocolatefest organizers recommend that attendees looking to buy a tasting ticket do so before the event because of limited availability, but general admissions tickets can be purchased at the door.
There are 19 chocolatiers present at Chocolatefest 2019, representing local bakeries, candy shops, and more. Among the new and returning chocolatiers attending Chocolatefest is Sassy Pants Sweets & Treats, appearing at Chocolatefest for their second year. Owner and operator Sheri Hartzog touched on some changes that she says both attendees and vendors can look forward to.
“I’m excited to be in a different venue this year,” Hartzog said. “I have never been in the World’s Fair Exhibition Center, and I’m excited for the new format for tasting passes, both for us as vendors and for the attendees.”
Hartzog recalled that last year's festival involved some hectic business, but she is looking forward to the event's new options.
“We were really busy on both sides last year as they handed out chocolate and we took care of customers,” Hartzog added. “This year, the attendees can sit down and enjoy the chocolates instead of standing in line, and we can focus on giving good customer service on the sales side. I have plenty of help this year.”
Chocolatefest 2019 will kick off at 935 World’s Fair Park Drive. Information such as attending vendors and chocolatiers, as well as ticket sales and pricing, can be found on their website.