By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — From kid-friendly treats and games to distinctly adult beverages, this year’s Chocolate and Wine Festival at Gateway Harbor Park aims to have a little something for everyone.
The Gateway Committee of the Tonawandas in conjunction with the Tonawanda and North Tonawanda recreation departments will present the third-annual festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Gateway Harbor. Along with the same sweet treats from last year, the event will feature a few new vendors, including a Buffalo winery and cider house that has a weekly presence at the NT Farmers Market and a Webster Street business that’s building a local following.
“We have an additional winery, so we have three wineries this year: Schulze, Willow Creek and Chateau Buffalo,” said Patricia Brosius, NT director of youth, recreation and parks. “We also have Canalside Creamery participating this year, and, of course, we have Platters.”
Barb LaBruna of Canalside Creamery said the business will offer hard ice cream at the event, as well as a signature dessert that’s become a local favorite.
“We’re going to be featuring our ice cream pies at the festival,” she said. “We started them last year and they were brought back this year by popular demand.”
The pies — chocolate caramel, chocolate peanut butter and Oreo — will be available by the slice at the festival. Whole pies are available by order at the shop, as will be orange chocolate soft ice cream, a flavor rolled out especially for the week of the festival.
LaBruna also said she may be bringing one non-chocolatey flavor into the mix that day as well — but it depends on if the shop can keep it in stock.
“As fast as I can make the Key lime, it sells,” she said.
Another new vendor is Chateau Buffalo, an urban winery and cider house that’s based in the City of Buffalo, but also visits the North Tonawanda Farmers Market every Saturday. Owner Carl Schmitter said he will be bringing a cherry wine and a honey mead to the festival, as well as some other varieties.
“I’m planning on bring a variety of dessert wines; they’ll go well with the chocolate,” he said. “We also do a cider ice wine. ... As we do have a line of hard ciders, it seemed like something we wanted to play around with. We did come up with something really delicious and unique with that.”
Berry Family Farms and Graham Family Farms will be selling seasonal produce such as pumpkins and apples at the event, Brosius said, and the recreation department will be selling chocolate and regular coffee, chocolate milk and chocolate-covered popcorn. The Christian Academy of WNY will be selling baked goods and water.
In addition to the vendors, there are a number of activities and demonstrations available for children and adults, Brosius said. A representative from Mary Kay will be giving “chocolate” makeovers and manicures and children (of all ages) can take part in projects that include making ice cream, chocolate lip balm (with cocoa butter and chocolate chips), chocolate necklaces and more. Demonstrations will be taking place at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. and 12:25, 1:15 and 2:15 p.m. Most activities are free, but a few require one or two tickets, which cost 25 cents each.
In addition, there will be contests and games including a guess the candy jar contest, the chocolate-pudding-eating contest (at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 and 2:30 p.m., open to any age), and a peanut-butter-cup skyscraper contest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A find-the-golden-ticket game and the CandyMan game show will also take place. John White will be providing live acoustic music from noon to 2 p.m.IF YOU GO • WHAT: Third-annual Chocolate and Wine Festival • WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday • WHERE: Gateway Harbor Park, North Tonawanda • COST: Admission is free; tickets to purchase food and drinks are 25 cents each and prices vary depending on the item.