Chocolate lovers congregated for the gala event of the 10th Annual Cacao Festival, now being called the Chocolate Festival, on May 20, not quite the full flower moon evening (full moon was actually Saturday) but close enough to add magic to the magnificent setting around the pool and lush tropical gardens at Big Falls Lodge, Toledo.
This year the exhibitors offering samples of their products and very informative discussion regarding their procedures and mission were:
Xoco, an event sponsor who focuses on supplying high end quality cacao beans to chocolatiers worldwide and now farming in Belize.
Cotton Tree, who makes chocolate exclusively from beans from the Toledo District. Each batch of chocolate is created from the beans of a single farm and any flavours added are fresh and locally grown.
Moho, who buys beans from Maya Mountain Cacao and produces a wide range of exciting products from their Belize Tourist Village location. They gave us some very tasty samples of quality creations.
Belize Chocolate Company, creators of Kawkaw chocolate on Ambergris Caye, who source organic beans directly from farmers. This year we sampled from their wonderful chocolate fountain. Delicious.
Che’ll Mayan Chocolate, owned by Julio and Heliadora Saqui. Julio is always a mine of information and produces a fine product and offers a splendid Cacao tour.
Choco del Sol, who buys in Belize and exports to makers in Germany and Austria . We had samples of 60% and 82% chocolate – German style.
Ix Cacao of San Felipe, owned by Juan and Abelina Chowho, who produce a variety of cacao products from harvest of their own farm, which one can visit to see operations.
Ix Cacao is the Mayan goddess of chocolate, believed to be mother earth; her story is long and her talents, many. She sends her message to appreciate nature, nurture the mind and body and enjoy life.
Well, that is just what we did on Friday night. Hors d’oevres were contributed by the lodge and other dedicated business establishments in the area: conch fritters, hummus and veggies, shrimp, chicken bites, sausage, and brownies proffered by smiling faces. Wine was copious (thank you Walucos), the perfect accompaniment to fine food and chocolate treats.
When the music started the booming voices of the Garifuna Collective pulled the multitude closer and closer and soon hips started shaking, feet tapping and lips moving to the great renditions of well-known Garifuna songs. A backdrop video of our beloved Andy Palacio added to the amazing stage presentation. Thanks to Rob Hirons for being a marvelous host and congratulations to the Belize Tourist Board (BTB) and Toledo Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) for making this an event to remember.
Day 2: The sun came up, time to tube down the river and hit Front Street in Punta Gorda for more vendors , performing artists and cultural displays, all with the theme of chocolate. This is where Toledo shows what it can create: a quality product and a fun venue starting at the Uno gas station passing Cotton Tree store and stretching all the way to the library, a lively street party in the making complete with good Belizean food offerings and cool spots to relax.
Day 3: The grand finale was held from noon on at the technical high school with more focus on the Mayan culture, music, dancing, art, competitions and food.
The Chocolate Festival is an excellent annual event which takes place on the weekend closest to our Commonwealth Day, May 24 (now called Sovereign’s Day), a celebration of the 54 independent or sovereign states on the birthday of Queen Victoria.
So if you missed out this year mark your calendar, indulge in your chocolate fantasies and decide how you will participate in 2017.