BURLINGTON — ChocolateFest returns for its annual weekend of fun Friday through Monday, May 24-27, on the festival grounds located at 681 Maryland Ave. The theme this year is "Viva Choco Vegas."
The North American Midway Entertainment carnival, presented by the Burlington Rotary Club, opens with free admission from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, May 23. Live music by the 1980's rock band Cherry Pie begins at 7 p.m.
The four-day festival brings chocolate lovers near and far to Burlington where vendors await to cater to their cocoa craving.
Radio stations will again be broadcasting live from the festival grounds. FM106, 102.9 The Hog, 99.1 WMYX, 95.1 WIIL and 96.1 WLKG will all be there Friday night and 96.5 WKLH will join in the fun on Saturday.
The annual fireworks display was questionable until Community State Bank and Mangold Insurance came forward to sponsor the annual display at 9 p.m. Friday.
Live music will be featured each day of the festival. The Main Stage music lineup:
- Thursday — Cherry Pie, 7 p.m. (free festival admission).
- Friday — Bella Cain, 8:30 p.m.-midnight.
- Saturday — Lara Bell, noon; Squad 51, 2 p.m.; Dayrollers, 5:30 p.m.; Almighty Vinyl, 8:30 p.m.
- Sunday — Gravity of Youth, noon; Mad Bark, 2 p.m.; Astro Blues Band, 5:30 p.m.; Lunch Money Bullies, 8:30 p.m.
- Monday — The Britins, noon; PF and the Flatheads, 3:30 p.m.
A new Cantina Stage will feature a mariachi band at noon Saturday through Monday, followed by local talent. On Monday, visitors can see Kayla Seeber, competitor on this season of “The Voice,” perform at 1:30 p.m.
Chocolate Experience Tent
No trip to ChocolateFest is complete without a visit to the Chocolate Experience Tent.
Visitors can take the fast track via ChocolateLovers Lane and have fun taking impromptu pictures along the way to document the sweet memories of the day.
Chocoholic 5K or 10K
Register for the Chocoholic 5k or 10k run on Sunday at www.chocoholic.5k.run.
Festival events also include hypnotist and magician Chris Jones, Granpa Cratchet puppet show, food and retail vendors, Commercial Expo Tent, petting zoo, Touch-A-Truck, NASCAR exhibit, chef demonstrations, helicopter rides and Kid Buck$ game show.
In 1985, Bill Branen, Jack Berry and Dave Wright of the Burlington Standard Press along with Henry Spreaha and Henk Hasert of Nestle, Mayor Marty Itzin and the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce, brainstormed a way to draw tourists to Burlington and to celebrate Nestle's 20th anniversary of doing business in Burlington. They capitalized upon the idea that most people love chocolate. With Nestle's help, they planned and marketed a Chocolate Festival and gave Burlington the nickname of Chocolate City USA.
Hours and admission
Festival hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday (carnival and live music only, free admission), 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday and noon to 7 p.m. Monday. Advance tickets cost $7 for ages 13 and older and $4 for children ages 5-12. There is no charge for ages 4 and younger. Tickets are available online until noon May 22. Tickets at the gate cost $8 for ages 13 and older and $5 for children ages 5-12. Community Impact Day for Love Inc. will be Monday when admission is $5. On-grounds parking costs $5.
Pay-one-price carnival bands will be available for $25 in advance online until noon May 22, $30 on grounds. It includes unlimited rides for one day. The mega pass for unlimited carnival rides May 23-27 cost $75 and are available until May 22 at Richter's Marketplace Burlington (7 a.m.-8 p.m.) and Fox River State Bank/Greenwoods State Bank during normal business hours. Mega Pass is not available for sale online.
For more information on all schedules, activities and tickets, go to www.chocolatefest.com.
Jaycees Arts & Crafts Fair
The Burlington Jaycees Arts & Crafts Fair with more than 100 vendors will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26, at Echo Park, 595 Milwaukee Ave. Items for sale include handmade arts and crafts, gourmet dog treats, garden art, handmade jewelry, clothing, home decor, drawings and paintings and food. There is no admission fee.
Memorial Day Parade
The Veterans Memorial Day Parade is at 9 a.m. Monday, May 27. The parade steps off on Kane Street and proceeds to Milwaukee Avenue and then Echo Park, 595 Milwaukee Ave. It is followed by a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. honoring all veterans.