Chocolate, anyone? |

Chocolate, anyone?

Special to the Daily

“No one leaves short of chocolate,” said Julie Pech, self-titled chocolate therapist, about last year’s Colorado Chocolate Festival.

And this year is no exception. In fact, the third annual Colorado Chocolate Festival hosts

20 more chocolate vendors than last year, for a total of 100. And most of them give free samples.

The event, which is the biggest chocolate festival in the western United States, according to organizer Dana Cain, features two of the original Willy Wonka movie kids – Paris Themmen who played Mike Teavee, the precocious cowboy-loving kid who shrunk himself into the TV screen and Denise Nickerson, the girl who turned into a blueberry – signing autographs each day.

The Friday Gala highlight includes free wine tasting, but since sips are small – though they are unlimited – there will also be a cash bar with dessert wines and chocolate martinis. In addition the Denver-based jazz-fusion band, Wonderlic, will play, and judges, made up of actual brides, will rank sweets in the Chocolate Wedding Cake Competition.

Saturday, vendors give out free chocolate all day, and gift vendors offer unique items for mom – or yourself.

Last year, about 5,000 people took advantage of the delectable samples.

“Chocolate has always been America’s favorite flavor, and with all the new research on the health benefits of dark chocolate, it’s a guilt-free indulgence,” Cain said. “In England, doctors are starting

to prescribe dark chocolate to heal liver damage.”

Saturday afternoon, regional chocolate makers vie for prizes in the Chocolatier Championships. Awards include best fudge, truffle, filling, toffee, molded chocolate and freestyle chocolate.

And this year, two favorites of most women combine – shopping and eating chocolate – as all gift booths will hand out free chocolate.

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