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#375717 - 05/06/10 12:12 AM Toledo Cacao Fest, weekend of May 21
Katie Valk Offline
Greeting from Punta Gorda, and the Toledo District!

I take this opportunity to invite you to join us over the Commonwealth Day weekend for a celebration of chocolate and the rich flavours of the Toledo District.

The programme of events is as follows:

FRIDAY 21ST MAY – PG TOWN
* Wine & Chocolate evening, with live music from Pablo Collado, a special performance by the National Dance Company of Belize, and firework display

SATURDAY 22TH MAY – PG TOWN / INLAND
* Taste of Toledo Cookery and Craft Fair chocolate, cookery, crafts, presentations, and music
* Cacao for Kids children’s activities
* Sea Toledo Marine Trips
* Inland Cacao Trail tours
* Culture in Harmony evening music in PG Town
* Teen Dance in aid of PG Town library

SUNDAY 23TH MAY – LUBAANTUN MAYA SITE
* Archaeology presentations
* Special performance of the Monkey Dance at Lubaantun
* Grand raffle
* finale concert with the Three Kings of Belize – Paul Nabor, Florencio Mes, and Wilfred Peters, along with Carlos Perotte

For more information, call me at the Festival Office on 722-2531, visit our website at www.ToledoChocolate.com, email info@ToledoChocolate.com, or follow us on Facebook (Toledo Cacao Festival)

Yours in tourism,
Sulma Hernandez
CacaoFest Coordinator

CacaoFest is organised by BTIA Toledo, the Toledo Cacao Growers' Association, Ya'axche Conservation Trust, and Sustainable Harvest International, with the invaluable support and assistance of NICH, the Institute of Creative Arts, the Institute of Archaeology, Belize Tourism Board, Tropic Air, and LoveFM
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#378309 - 05/26/10 03:18 PM Re: Toledo Cacao Fest, weekend of May 21 [Re: Katie Valk]
Marty Offline

Three Kings At The Cacao Festival

The Cacao festival was held over the weekend in southern Belize. NICH had its camera crew there and we put together this story:

Jules Vasquez, Reporting
Fireworks lit up the evening sky over the Punta Gorda to start off the 2010 Cacao Festival at the UB Complex where organizers hosted the Wine and Chocolate Evening. An exotic array of chocolates products were being offered as local chocolatiers, Goss, Kakaw and Cotton Tree gave free samples.

Lisel Alamilla, Organizer, Yax'che Conservation Trust
"It's an organic product, it's a fair trade product and we are very proud that Toledo is the major producer of Cacoa in Belize"

The next day was the Taste of Toledo Fair seaside at the Petillo Park. It featured every novel product Toledo has to offer, and included an indoor display.

But the real pull was the band, the New Rebels with some special guest singers. And from Garifuna drumming to the gentle strains of the marimba and the celebrated Mayan traditional dance The Monkey Dance - a tradition infused with myth and made rich by tradition which was played out at Lubantuun:

Dr. Jaime Awe, Archaeologist
"Lubantuun is also one of the largest sites in Toledo. It was occupied for a very short period of time. But in spite of that some of the architecture here is certainly among the finest examples of pre-historic Maya architecture that you will find not just in Belize but anywhere in the Maya world. For that we are very proud of and feel very fortunate to have this site here in our small country."

Archaeologist Dr. Jaime Awe told the history of the monkey dance, dating back to its first documentation in 1926 by archeologist Thomas Gann.

Dr. Jaime Awe
"Thomas Gaan says that while in San Pedro Colombia, he was shown some mask by this very old gentleman. He said they consisted of 13 small black and red wooden masks of monkey faces, with one a good deal larger and that larger had a beard and three horns to represent the devil. He also says that it had been many years since the monkey dance had been performed in San Pedro because the Catholic priests thought that it was idolatrous. That it had to do with devil worship. It would seem that this was the belief by the priest that the monkeys and their father the devil had at one a lot of influence in the affairs of men. He also says that villagers believe that the monkeys in the forest had a an ability to influence the growing of corn and coming of the rains. And it is for this reason that they would celebrate the monkey dance just before the planting of the milpas. The wooden frame is erected on either side and it represents the forests in which the monkeys lived and each dancer will be doing their dance around some of the posts."

And while the monkey dance was the featured attraction, there was royalty in attendance, the three kings, Florencio Mes, Wilfred Peters and Paul Nabor whose performances provided the culmination for the three day event. And while the crowds did not befit kings or even princes - the setting was regal

(footage of Nabor, Mes, Peters performing) Again that footage was provided by NICH.

Channel 7


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#378317 - 05/26/10 03:31 PM Re: Toledo Cacao Fest, weekend of May 21 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Cacao Festival stirs up the love of chocolate

The cacao can be traced back to the Mayas who are known to have discovered how to convert the fruit into chocolate. There are numerous creative ways in which the cacao is now put to use: in ice cream, wines and in chocolate of course. It is primarily grown organically, harvested and processed in farms in the Toledo District and has the potential of becoming one of the top export earners in the south. And that is where the fourth cacao festival took place over the weekend. News Five’s Isani Cayetano and cameraman, Christopher Mangar, were there and have a report.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The cacao fruit, a legume that has for millennia been used by the Maya, is the heart of an annual celebration of a time honored tradition in sustainable agriculture. Early records show that this valuable plant has been used by this indigenous race of people for everything from legal tender to its medicinal powers. The Toledo Cacao Fest is the manifestation of the plant and its many uses.

Bartolo Teul, Ya’axche Conservation Trust

“Indeed the cacao, if you read history, the ancient Mayas used to use it as currency. They used to buy as we use money today. Contemporary Mayas of course, the cacao is still playing a very significant role in their economic development that’s why we think that the cacao industry has very good potential for being one of the major industry or foreign exchange earner for the Toledo District.”

Realizing the economic possibilities of harvesting and processing the cacao bean are a few local businesses that exploit its vast uses as a primary means of income.

Isani Cayetano

“Of the many uses for the cacao plant there is of course chocolate ice cream. What you may not witness or taste for yourself is that this is totally different from what you’re used to in Belize City. This is actually potent cacao plant being used for ice cream. With me is Mr. Antonio Teul, proprietor of Arianie’s Ice Cream.”

antonio teul

Antonio Teul, Owner, Arianie’s Ice Cream

“We use the cacao, we buy it from the farmers. We buy the—they roast it and so we buy it in a form of how would you say, like massa and then we grind it and put it direct into the ice cream until it get that flavor. So that’s why you can see the little chip on the ice cream right. So for us we’ve been in the business for almost twelve years now and we thank God we’re still here and thanks to our community that they support our business.”

What is seen here today are the results of several techniques that yield wine, chocolate and other products made from the cacao bean. To get a better understanding of how this multipurpose plant is grown and harvested I traveled to a farm in San Felipe Village. There Juan Cho, a local chocolatier, walked me through the process.

Reaping the fruit of the cacao tree is fairly simple but it can be a bit tedious. With a machete I am able to cut down the overhanging pods which are then gathered off the forest floor and placed into a crocus sack. That exercise is repeated until the bag is filled or the entire crop has been harvested. The process, as Cho describes it, is completely eco-friendly.

Juan Cho, Owner, Cyrila’s Chocolatesjuan cho

“We look at everything that we harvest from our farm; weeds that we can cut down we leave it on the floor to decompose. And of course the decomposition process is much more highly activated due to the fact that we are blessed with the rains and of course the heat. So these pods that you may look around you will experience leaves on the floor as well that drop off on an occasional basis from our trees, we leave them down to decompose.”

From the pod itself what is coveted is a string of seeds. The kernel is the main ingredient in any form of cacao processing.

Isani Cayetano

“Now, this is not Arianie’s Ice Cream, nor is it Cyrila’s Wines and Chocolates but what I have in the palm of my hand is pure, one hundred percent Maya gold.”

Once dried the seeds are ground using a traditional stoneware tool or in some cases a hand-wound grinder. The deposit is then used in the distillation of premium wines and the manufacture of chocolates. Cyrila’s may not be as big a name as Hershey, Nestle or Lindt but it is ranked among Belize’s finest, the family business is a mainstay at the annual celebration.

Isani Cayetano

“The Cacao Fest, as fledgling it is a particular festival it is the showcase of everything that is manufactured and made from the cacao plant. What I have behind me is an alcoholic beverage made of the cacao plant itself. Relatively mild, what is the potency of this particular drink?”

Juan Cho

“You have somewhere around seven percent of alcoholic, of alcohol content.”

Isani Cayetano

“There you have it. It’s just one drink of many particular products that are made from the cacao plant.”

Another player in the local market is Cotton Tree Chocolates, a nominee for 2010’s Small Vendor of the Year award.

Judi Puryear, Owner, Cotton Tree Chocolates

judy puryear

“Well these are croc pops or choc crocs and they are molded crocodiles made from chocolate. It’s a hundred percent pure Belizean chocolate and the proceeds go to benefit ACES Crocodile Sanctuary here in Toledo and it’s just a fun new thing.”

From chocolate treats for kids to premium spirits for wine connoisseurs Toledo’s Cacao Fest brings together people the world over to celebrate the jewel of the ancient Maya. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


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#378662 - 05/30/10 09:29 PM Re: Toledo Cacao Fest, weekend of May 21 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline


Chocolate aficionados from all corners of Belize and beyond migrated to the southern end of Belize last weekend to attend the fourth annual Toledo Cacao-Fest in Punta Gorda.

The festival, organized by a group of volunteers from the Toledo community,including Ya’axche Conservation Trust,Toledo Cacao Growers Association,BTIA Toledo,Sustainable Harvest International,Punta Gorda Town Council and with support and assistance from National Institute of Culture and History (NICH),the Institute of Creative Arts, the Institute of Archaeology, the Belize Tourism Board, Love FM, Tropic Air and BRC Printing offered a weekend full cacao celebration as well as promoting other tourism opportunities in the district.

The festival kicked off on Friday night the 21st with a Wine & Chocolate Reception. Guests tasted chocolate samples from Belizean producers Goss, Cotton Tree and San Pedro’s own Kakaw. Kakaw proprietor Chris Beaumont was on-hand to showcase a decadent chocolate fountain where guests could sample a variety of fresh tropical fruits drenched in melted chocolate, yum!
Saturday the Taste of Toledo was an all day beachside affair featuring arts,crafts, music, dance, food and more. The festival moved to the nearby Labaantun ruins on Sunday where an opening performance of the Monkey Dance was staged by the villagers of San Jose. Archaeological presentations were held throughout the day and the event ended with a concert with the “Three Kings of Belize”, Paul Nabor, Florencio Mes and Mr. Peters accompanied by Carlos Perrote





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