Saturday, May 16th, 2015. Chrisbert Garcia Reporting: Cacao is a crop native to the Americas, and the Toledo District is recognized for its superior cacao over the rest of the country.
Cacao beans are a significant export crop and within country, are transformed into distinctive and high quality chocolate. Every Commonwealth Day, which is in the month of May, Belize celebrates this marvellous food and many devoted followers return to Toledo each year to find out what’s new in the world of chocolate making.
This year’s Chocolate Festival will open on May 22nd at 6p.m. in grand fashion at Garbutt’s Marine with the world renowned ‘Wine and Chocolate’ event that will feature live music, fine wine, Belizean chocolate, and Belikin’s specially brewed Chocolate Stout for visitors’ delight.
This year’s gourmet experience will allow participants to indulge in the latest creations from Belizean boutique chocolate makers – Kakaw, Goss Chocolate, Cotton Tree Chocolate, and Ixcacao – and feast on delectable hors d’ouevres. With an array of fine wines, Belikin’s Chocolate Stout, and atmospheric music, a premier event is guaranteed at this year’s Wine and Chocolate by the sea.
On Saturday May 23rd, the celebration will continue with the Taste of Toledo Street Fair on Front street where the District’s five main ethnic groups: Kriol, Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo and East Indian will be showcased.
Each area displays art, food and music from their culture, it is like going from a Maya Town to a Garifuna Town in just a few steps and with the cool sea breeze in a party atmosphere, walking won’t be a problem.
This year’s musical performances on the main stage will include cultural groups such as PG’s Umalali group, and Talla Walla Vibration, while other attractions will include: Barbecued food, chocolate making, kayak trips, chocolate farm trips, face painting, puppet shows, finger painting, jewellery making and The taste of Toledo cookery competition.
As you’d expect at a chocolate festival, each booth will have some connection with chocolate or cacao, from chocolate soaps to hand-carved wooden masks depicting cacao. The Belizean chocolatiers will also be on hand to talk about chocolate and provide an opportunity for you to buy their many and varied creations, so there definitely will be something for everyone to enjoy.
There will also be the convenient ‘Cacao for kids’ activities which will get children involved in the experience, leaving parents free to enjoy the street fair whilst knowing that their children are in a safe, supervised environment.
The last day of this 3 day Festival will be on Sunday May 24th with the Grand Finale being held for the first time on the shaded campus of Julian Cho Technical High School, which is located just a few miles outside of Punta Gorda Town. There will be live performances throughout the day under the school’s covered auditorium.
It will feature musical performances from Mayan harp groups to Garifuna drumming as well as dances by the Baktun 13 group from Maya Centre in Stann Creek. To quench your thirst, there will be a range of drinks made from cacao, combined with corn or pepper and other ingredients, while food stalls will offer ethnic Mayan dishes to satisfy your taste buds.
Local crafts from hammocks and tie-tie baskets, to slate and calabash carvings will be on sale, but the cultural explosion continues beyond that, as visitors will have the opportunity to try their own hand at craft making. The new location provides plenty of on-site car parking and is right along the southern highway, making it convenient for visitors travelling up north at the end of the day!
The Chocolate Festival of Belize draws more tourists to Toledo each year and this year promises to be the biggest and most extravagant one yet, so Punta Gorda is the place to be for this Commonwealth Day Weekend, May 22-24, 2015. Platinum Sponsors for this year’s Fest are: Smart, Travellers Liquors and Atlantic Bank. Tickets for this prestigious Wine and Chocolate night will cost you a mere $50 and are available countrywide, including: Orange Walk #651-4860, Cayo #602-6682, Belize City #227-1144, Belmopan #622-1372, TIDE #722-2129, Garbutts Marine #722-0070, Belcampo #722-0050 and BTIA Toledo #722-2531 or through your Toledo hotel.
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