Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites, 2525 Ashland Street
The luxuriant scent of fine chocolate permeating the air in the Grand Ballroom at Ashland Hills Hotel testifies to the opulence of the Oregon Chocolate Festival held early each March to celebrate this delectable finery in all its splendid iterations. This popular three-day event features more than two dozen West Coast chocolatiers offering a mouthwatering assortment of chocolate edibles and ingenious chocolate-inspired creations, and also includes captivating and educational events.
Oregon Chocolate Festival Ashland – Top USA Festivals Photo Gallery
The festival kicks off with at 5:30 pm on Friday with a social hour in the Stardust Lounge, where a small cover fee earns a chance to revel in appetizers and chocolate, including a chocolate fountain, while sipping a local wine or beer and conversing with festival chocolatiers to the accompaniment of live music. Next comes the spectacular, reservations-only Chocolate Makers Dinner at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel downtown in a charming and romantic ballroom, with seating beginning at 6:30. This semiformal affair features five incredible courses, each involving chocolate in incredibly sumptuous and creative nuances and paired with a local wine.
This dinner sells out quickly, so reserve early via the Chocolate Festival website.
On Saturday, the festival kicks into high gear, delivering a full slate of intriguing demonstrations, classes, and vendors, as well as the spirited Chocolate Product Competition, in which chocolatiers enter their finest works to be judged by a panel of experts in hopes of earning one of the Best in Show categorical awards. Beyond the categorical
Preparing mouthwatering chocolate delectable at the Oregon Chocolate Festival awards, judges also select a coveted Best in Show award and attendees get in on the judging by selecting winners of the People’s Choice awards.
Throughout the weekend, special classes and workshops at the Oregon Chocolate Festival, which require advance registration, allow participants the opportunity to learn unique skills and concepts under the tutelage of acknowledged experts. On Sunday morning, the popular and festive Charlie’s Chocolate 5K Run/Walk and Kids’ 400 Yard Dash start and end at the hotel, with participants encouraged to dress like their favorite characters from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Delicious prizes are served to all racers, including a Charlie’s Chocolate Run Wonka Bar, as well as other take-home surprises.
The Oregon Chocolate Festival is a deservedly popular event in a community that boasts multitudinous activities; register early via the festival website and plan to stay for a while—the weekend and beyond, perhaps; take time to explore Ashland’s diverse eateries, bars, pubs, parks, and attractions. Daily and two-day passes to the festival are modestly priced, and even the five-course Chocolate Maker’s Wine Dinner is surprisingly affordable. Lodging options abound, including the festival venue itself.