Chocolate flows from the Featherstone fountain this weekend

0
Troy Harris with Gabriel Bengtsson, age 6 1/2 trying out the Chocolate Fountain at last year's Art of Chocolate Festival. —Lynn Christoffers

If you think there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing, then the upcoming Art of Chocolate Festival might not be your thing. But if you’re less puritanical of mind and don’t mind splurging a little, come on down to the Featherstone Center for the Arts this weekend and dive right into chocolate heaven.

The weekend-long Festival, now in its 13th year, will kick off with an evening preview party on Friday night and continue with open tasting hours on Saturday and Sunday.

This year, the all-you-can-eat preview party is back after a one-year hiatus. The tickets are specially priced at $20, or $50 for Malcolm and Jeanne Campbell Patron Tickets. “We’ve lowered the price to $20 in keeping with the celebration of our 20th anniversary,” Featherstone executive director Ann Smith said. “We’re trying to keep things in denominations of 20. To honor Malcolm and Jeanne, we’re offering patron tickets in their name. They were always the hosts.” Ms. Campbell died earlier in 2016, just over a year after the death of her husband.

Although the Campbells, who were the original founders and sponsors of the event, are gone, their spirit will live on. The preview party will take place in the arts campus’ Pebble Gallery, where Ms. Campbell’s photographs will be on exhibit.

Along with the usual array of chocolate goodies, chocolate martinis, and champagne, festival chairperson Billie Jean Sullivan will lead guests in a chocolate-themed activity. Partygoers can try their hand at creating mini paintings of chocolate goodies, following in the tradition of famed artist Wayne Thiebaud, who is best known for his paintings of cakes, pies, pastries, and candy. Reproductions of some of Mr. Thiebaud’s work will be on display for inspiration.

As always, guests will be tempted by an array of cookies, cakes, brownies, and every other

chocolate confection one could possibly think of. The treats are all donated by local bakers, restaurants, caterers, and chocolatiers, as well as individuals from the community. A number of Featherstone artists and teachers traditionally prepare some special recipe for the annual event.

All of the chocolatey goodness will be available for tasting in Featherstone’s main gallery on Saturday and Sunday. Weekend visitors can stop by anytime between 12 and 4 and purchase tickets for samples. Tastings are priced at 2 for $5 or 5 for $10.

Among the options will be a chocolate dipping fountain, an ice cream sundae bar, and enough other cocoa-centric concoctions to keep any chocoholic happy. The festival will also be the only place on the Island where people can purchase Chilmark Chocolates during the Columbus Day weekend. The famed chocolate company was founded by the Campbells’ daughter, Jan Campbell, and the special festival weekend sale has been an ongoing tradition since the beginning.

As a bonus this year, Featherstone will host a gigantic yard sale under a tent just outside the gallery. The arts campus is clearing out its barn to make way for new construction, part of a large renovation project launched earlier this year. Ms. Smith is calling the event a “barn blowout sale,” and promises that items on offer will include horseshoes and other horse collectibles, art supplies, easels, and more. “All good things that could use a good home,” she said.

Chocolate and shopping all in one location? Sounds like a winning combination.

For more information, visit featherstoneart.org.