Kansas Chocolate Festival sweetens up downtown

Terry Richardson

It was a great weekend for chocolate lovers in Topeka.

The Kansas Chocolate Festival was held 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 30 in downtown Topeka. The festival features local vendors and food trucks, as well as those from across the country, such as Bittersweet Kitchen from St. Louis, MO, Pacari Chocolate from Boca Raton, FL and Sublime Chocolate from Allen, TX.

Live bands entertained the crowds on the north end of Kansas Avenue while chocolate enthusiasts enjoyed the stage demonstration on the south end. These demonstrations included Hazel Hill’s live chocolate artistry and adult and child chocolate pudding eating contests.

The MARS Nascar team had their race car on display along with a driving simulator. The MARS mascot interacted with the crowds as well, having its photo taken with anyone visiting their company’s area.

Adults and children alike came together to enjoy the sweet event.

“It’s my first time here at the festival,” said Perla Martinez, sophomore nursing major. “There was a fudgy brownie at the sample tent that was delicious.”

Long lines didn’t phase those who were there for chocolate samples. Outside the door of the designated tasting room, the line stretched for over half the block. Once inside, people got to sample chocolate from regional retailers with a $1 cover charge.

“We had to stand in line about five minutes, but it was worth it,” said Martinez.

Towards the center of the festival, food trucks were arranged in a circle around tables to accommodate the hungry crowds.

“This is just lovely,” said Sander Hernandez, junior at Topeka High School. “My favorite part is the funnel cakes.”

Kansas Avenue has experienced continuous improvement over recent years, such as new art installations and renovation to its infrastructure. Downtown Topeka has made an effort to revitalize the neighborhood and host more community events as successful as the Kansas Chocolate Festival.

“Downtown Topeka looks a whole lot better than it has in years,” said Boone Smith, teacher at Topeka High School. “This is one of the most beautiful days of the whole year. It beats staying at home doing yard work.”