9th Chocolate Festival of Belize

Posted By: Marty

9th Chocolate Festival of Belize - 04/03/15 10:29 AM

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May 22nd - 24th 2015

The ninth annual Chocolate Festival of Belize and Toledo will take place on 22nd, 23rd, and 24th May 2015. The event kicks off with the Gala event, Wine and Chocolate on the Friday night from 7pm to 11:30pm. The event is being held for the second year at Garbutt’s gorgeous marina on Joe Taylor Creek. Surrounded by both the lagoon and the ocean this night brings you nothing but good times, good friends and live music from the Caribbean Roots Band all the way from Corozal, an array of delectable hors d’oeuvres including deep fried lion fish and shrimp and, of course, how could we forget – Chocolate from Belizean chocolatiers!

The Taste of Toledo Street Fair is held on Front Street in Punta Gorda town, from the Uno gas station all the way down to the Punta Gorda library. The pedestrian-only street fair features cultural displays and areas showcasing Toledo's five main ethnic groups: Kriol, Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo and East Indian. Each area displays art, food and music from their culture. It is like passing from a Maya town to a Garifuna town in just a few steps. Barbecued food, chocolate making, kayak trips, chocolate farm trips, there's something for everyone. Live local music will play in the fair, on stage as well in the streets. Taste exciting new chocolate flavours, watch local dance groups, buy local food, crafts, and relax with a cold beer while enjoying live music on stage outside the court building. Cacao for Kids will be at the Punta Gorda Methodist School grounds, where there will be tons of fun for the kids.

The Festival Finale on Sunday will take place for the first time on the shaded campus of Julian Cho Technical High School. There will be live performances throughout the day under the school’s covered auditorium. This will feature musical performances from Mayan harp groups to Garifuna drumming as well as dances by the Baaktun 13 group from Maya Centre in Stann Creek. There will be a range of drinks made from cacao combined with corn or pepper and other ingredients and food stalls will offer ethnic Mayan dishes. Local crafts from hammocks and tie tie baskets to slate and calabash carvings will be on sale and visitors will have the chance to try their own hand at craft making and appreciate the skill that goes into their creation. The new location provides plenty of on site car parking and is right on the southern highway making it convenient for visitors travelling up north at the end of the day.

t: (+501) 722-2531
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Posted By: Nick Barton

Re: 9th Chocolate Festival of Belize - 05/06/15 12:30 AM

We are coming - all the way from San Pedro!
Posted By: Marty

Re: 9th Chocolate Festival of Belize - 05/06/15 11:47 AM

coming up soon, here is a schedule of events....

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Posted By: Marty

Re: 9th Chocolate Festival of Belize - 05/13/15 10:39 AM

Schedule of Events..... It's ALMOST chocolate time in Toledo!

Hotels available for the Chocolate Festival weekend:

Seafront Inn
Charltons Inn
Grace Hotel
The Lodge a Big Falls
Farm Inn
Blue Belize
Cotton Tree Lodge

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Posted By: Marty

Re: 9th Chocolate Festival of Belize - 05/28/15 07:16 PM


9th Annual Chocolate Festival in Toledo

Thousands attended the 9th annual chocolate festival in Toledo over the weekend. The festival lasts for three days and started on Friday with a wine and chocolate event. The largest part of the event was held on Saturday when different artisans and other entrepreneurs displayed their cacao related products and non cacao related products. Emanuel Pech was there on Saturday and has this report. Centuries ago, back when money use to grow on trees, the Mayan civilizations used locally grown cocoa as their main source of currency. Several hundred years after and the Toledo community still uses the locally grown cocoa, the chocolate fruit as their main source of financing. Today, Saturday, was the biggest day of the festival, attended by over a thousand people. Stephanie Parham, the information officer for the BTIA Toledo Chapter and  the  main organizer of the event says that the main purpose of hosting the  chocolate festival is two folds. 

Stephanie Parham  – Information Officer BTIA, Toledovlcsnap-2015-05-28-11h23m07s27 “Well its organized by TCGA and BTIA. TCGA, for the main purpose of the farmers who plant the cacao and they sell the beans for them. BTIA is based on the tourism aspect of it. It is a change for Toledo to expand the tourism season. We all know that the height of the season starts fading after Easter,  this is like that last boast that Toledo needs. I must tell you that the Punta Gorda hotels are booked out, the restaurants are full,  the bars are full. It’s not just about in the town, people from so far away take advantage of all the beauties that we have here in Toledo; the caves, the Maya ruins, the zip-lining, spending time in the villages and learning the culture and what Toledo has to offer.  “ Belize grows three main varieties of cocoa, namely  Trinitario, Crilollo and Forastero. The Toledo Cacao Growers Associations, TCGA, is the country’s largest association of cacao farmers, with over a thousand registered members and one thousand four hundred acres of land.  This year, the TCGA farmers produced five hundred tons of organic and fermented cacao seeds. Orlando COC– Accountant, TCGAvlcsnap-2015-05-28-10h39m30s245 “Well the TCGA provides technical support for the farmers. From the nursary establishment to the planting and post harvesting. We conduct different trainings on monalia, the postharvest. We conduct grafting training and so forth. We also offer the marketing because the farmers don’t have to worry about the market. It is the TCGA that secures the market out there. “

After the seeds are prepared, TCGA farmers sell their cocoa to foreign chocolate producers as well as local producers like the Cotton Tree Chocolate factory situated in Punta Gorda.vlcsnap-2015-05-28-10h30m09s248

vlcsnap-2015-05-28-10h52m41s45Lidia Saqui – Manager, Cotton – Tree Chocolate “We get our beans from the Toledo Cacao Growers Association, they are the ones who work directly with the farmers. What we do is we roast the beans, then we grind, we farther grind and we get paste. We then add the ingredients and that takes about three days before the chocolate is ready. Once it is ready, it goes through another process where we temper the chocolates, mold the chocolates and we have chocolate bars. We do dark chocolate, dark milk chocolate and milk chocolate. You can find our bars at Brodies  in Belmopan and Belize City, and also at the International Airport. “

The Maya Mountain Cacao LTD, established in 2010, is a smaller organization of cocoa farmers but still very prominent in Toledo with over three hundred certified producers.

vlcsnap-2015-05-28-11h37m08s20Gabriel Pop – Field Director, Maya Mountain “I think that cocoa is just unique. It has a history, and the culture. You see people  consume this product in their daily lives. It is just a matter of us bringing markets, bringing money to their pockets so that they can support their families, send their kids to school. That is the economy and that is the impact that our industry is having now in Toledo. “ Ixcacao Maya Belize Chocolate, established in 2005 is  one of the largest Mayan own chocolate factories in the country.  Owner and operator Juan Cho explains how he found his niche in this industry.

Juan Cho – Owner/Operator, Ixcacovlcsnap-2015-05-28-11h37m15s92 “It came about after understanding and learning about our cultural identity and of course we looked at the economic sustainability aspect of our programs. How are we going to sustain ourselves? We often look at Hersey’s, Snickers and all the other chocolates and ask ourselves the question,’ where is it being processed? How is it being processed? How is  it made into a candy bar? where does it come from?’ When we look around we saw that it all comes from cocoa. Back in those days, we were selling cacao beans to Green and Black Chocolate Company in the UK to be processed down to Mayan grown chocolate bars. The Toledo Cacao Growers Association has been educating the farmers to add value, value added products.  One way to take that initiative and that idea is to start from scratch. We started off from a stone tool that we had instead of a million dollar project. “

Fern Gutierrez  – Mayor, Punta Gordavlcsnap-2015-05-28-11h12m39s158 “Within the last ten years, we have seen a boom in the industry on a whole as it relates to the southern chapter of it. It continues to show that the possibility that exists and that the income  that come directly to the people within the rural areas and even in the urban zones. we have been benefiting from this industry tremendously. What I like about the Chocolate Fest is that it promotes sharing what Toledo has to offer. If you go booth by booth, you will see the innovativeness of the residence of the Toledo District. It continues to show that we have the brain power, we have the  likability and the peace and tranquility and the direction  to come as it relates to tourism is Punta Gorda town and by extension, Toledo District.”

Stephanie Parham  vlcsnap-2015-05-28-11h24m45s138 ” We just want to keep that tourism coming. We want to boost that tourism. We want our farmers to know that we appreciate the cacaos that they grow because without the cacaos we can’t have chocolate.”

Thousands of people, chocolate lovers both foreign and local attended this national event to commemorate this  cultural and historical fruit.  reporting for Plus News,  I am Emanuel Pech. Last week the Maya House of Cacao, a project funded by the European Union and the Government of Belize, was officially opened. The facility will be used by the Toledo Cacao Growers Association to provide training for its members in the production of chocolate and host tours to educate visitors on the bio history of cacao.


Posted By: Judyann H.

Re: 9th Chocolate Festival of Belize - 05/29/15 12:17 AM

We attended this event this year....(thanks to some dear friends of ours).....And I can tell you after having a piece of Chocolate Covered Bacon Bits with a Light Merlot during the opening night welcome party..........Well, let's just say I am counting down 361 days before we see PG again.... smile
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