Visitors to Long Grove can sample a variety of chocolates and chocolate-infused cuisine this weekend at the village's popular Chocolate Fest, which marks its 20th anniversary.
Thousands will convene to experience three days of old-world charms, family frills and delicious handmade chocolates, in addition to continuous live music. Children and parents are invited to roam town in search of treasures, while dozens of local vendors dish out chocolate-inspired creations, everything from chocolate cotton candy to burgers lathered in barbecue chocolate sauce.
If you goWhat: 20th annual Long Grove Chocolate Fest
When: noon to 11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 18-20
Where: Historic downtown Long Grove, 308 Old McHenry Road
Admission: $5 per person per day, kids 12 and younger get in free. A three-day pass is $10.
Parking: Free at all public lots in downtown Long Grove. Free shuttle from satellite lot at Chase Plaza, 1172 Buffalo Grove Road, Buffalo Grove.
Festival hours are noon to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 18-20. throughout historic downtown Long Grove, 308 Old McHenry Road. Admission is $5 per person per day, kids 12 and younger get in free. A three-day pass is $10.
Featuring chocolate arts and craft activities and throwback fun, Chocolate Fest 2018 is designed to be Chicagoland's sweetest kickoff to festival season.
"Chocolate Fest is Long Grove's quintessential event," said Kendra Perri of the Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association. "It offers something for everyone served in a historic setting that conjures up memories of a time bygone."
The chocolate foods
Some of the most innovative chocolate-infused cuisine -- foods everyone loves made with or dipped in chocolate -- are doled out at Chocolate Fest from a wide selection of the area's most popular restaurants and purveyors.
Besides many local restaurateurs, over a dozen of the area's leading chocolatiers will be showcasing their goods throughout festival grounds.
Specialties being planned exclusively for Chocolate Fest 2018 include chocolate cotton candy, frozen hot chocolate; chocolate flavored popcorn; chocolate ice varieties; a chocolate bar with selections such as chili, mint, sea salt, nut, and fruit; chocolate candies including truffles, turtles, toffee, brittle, and peanut butter cups; chocolate covered bacon; chocolate-dipped apples, bananas, strawberries, cheesecakes, pretzels, macaroons, marshmallows, nuts, and doughnuts; chocolate funnel cakes; chocolate granola; chocolate blintz; chocolate flan; and more.
Back by popular demand will be the Chocolate Experience Tent, with hands-on chocolate demonstrations and chocolate artisans. New this year in the Chocolate Experience Tent, attendees will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and personally make 15 to 30 truffles on-site with direction from The Bom Truffle company.
Chocolate Fest 2018 is again produced by Ravenswood Event Services, programmers of some of Chicago's leading festivals and events like Taste of Chicago, Blues Fest, and Chicago Marathon. Throughout the three-day weekend, high-energy music will play out live around the clock on multiple stages. This year's main stage headliners include classic '70s and '80s cover artists 7th heaven on Friday, '80s powerhouse 16 Candles on Saturday, and John Cougar Mellencamp tribute kings, Mellencougar, on Sunday. For the full main stage lineup, visit the Chocolate Fest website.
The family activities
At its gooey core, Chocolate Fest is geared toward families. In addition to chocolate games, displays and treats to nibble on, children can enjoy hours of fun at the Kid Zone sponsored by Rivellino School of Art. This year's activities include: Medieval Times junior knight training with demos and dueling, chocolate pie-eating contests, face painting, potato sack races, a tug-o-war, roaming performers and other timeless kids' games. Rivellino will also be hosting an art tent that will incorporate chocolate craft options along with non-chocolate craft options.
The Fantasy Amusements Carnival at Chocolate Fest will provide a full carnival atmosphere, with unlimited rides packages for all those serious thrill-seekers.
Historic downtown Long Grove is known for its independent, family-owned and operated restaurants and stores. As such, Chocolate Fest marks the opening of shopping season, welcoming all fest-goers to venture outside fest grounds to peruse at their leisure. Many Long Grove merchants will be featuring chocolate specialties of their own inside their stores during Chocolate Fest weekend; local institutions such as Viking Treasures, Paddy's on the Square, The Olive Tap, Morkes, Long Grove Confectionary, Village Tavern, and Ma & Pa's, to name a few.