Lewisburg is a beautiful town tucked in the hills of the Greenbrier Valley in West Virginia and was recently voted America’s coolest small town by Frommer’s Budget Travel Magazine. Downtown Lewisburg showcases the quintessential Main Street framed by art galleries, trendy boutiques, coffee & wine bars, and damned delicious restaurants. My favorite activity in visiting Lewisburg combines scrumptious chocolate tastings with a small town festival that features live music, chef demonstrations, food, and a variety of other events. This popular annual event is known as “The Lewisburg Chocolate Festival” and 2015 marks the ninth anniversary of the celebration. Mark your calendars for the date, Saturday April 11th, as you will not want to miss this fun springtime celebration.
I asked one of the creators of the Chocolate Festival and long time friend of mine, Cindy Lavender-Bowe, to answer a few questions regarding this charitable event to get everyone psyched for this years debut.
- Who was the brainchild behind this festival and what was the reason for it? Haha. I was the founding chair of the inaugural LCF and I’ve served on the committee all 9 years. The festival was the result of a small group of folks that wanted to create a spring event to bring folks to Lewisburg. From day one, the event has had a charitable component with proceeds being donated to a local non-profit.
- This is your 9th year for hosting the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival. Has every year been successful? Every year has been more successful than the last! The first year we hoped to sell 100 tickets; we sold 2,000. This number has grown exponentially each year – last year we sold 40,000!
- What can first-timers expect when they arrive in Lewisburg to attend the festival?Expect to get their fill of chocolate! While tickets are required to exchange for tastes of chocolate at over 30 booths, most of the festival is FREE. Free live music, free movies, free children’s storytelling and a beautiful, festive environment. Lewisburg is a fun and friendly place and we hope folks will come back again and again.
- Is there anything new being offered at this year’s festival? While plans are still underway, we always have a variety of new tastings and chocolate companies participating, as well as new entertainment. Our schedule will be posted online in advance of the event.
- Do you have an idea of how many people have attended the Chocolate Festival in the recent past? In year one, we had about 600 attendees; last year we sold 40,000 tickets and estimated the attendees at 5,000 to 7,000.
- What is the most popular activity at the festival? While the tastings are the most popular part, the Chocolate Mousse Eating Contest is a big crowd-pleaser, too.
- Do you like chocolate? (trick question) Of course! I eat a square of dark chocolate daily. My family knows to make sure I don’t run out!
- Does the festival raise money for any particular organization or is it mostly a way to get to know the local businesses?The purpose of the festival is two-fold; to raise money for a local non-profit, the United Way of Greenbrier Valley, and to bring folks to Lewisburg – to visit our shops, eat in our fabulous restaurants, and enjoy our local musicians and performers!
- When I attended the festival in years past, I always purchased my tickets online. Are there a limited number of tickets up for grabs or can people buy them in town the day of the festival? We do have a limited number of tickets available based upon the actual number of chocolate tastes that are available. We are shooting for 40,000 again this year. The majority of tickets are sold in advance, either online or in local shops, but we do hold back a reserve of tickets that are available for purchase the day of the festival. First come, first serve basis. On sale at 10am.
- What is the Greenbrier Resort’s role in this festival?Every year we have been fortunate to feature chocolate demonstrations from talented staff members of the prestigious Greenbrier Resort. Often they provide free samples to the demo audience. These events are free.
A good dose of chocolate, entertainment, and fresh country air never hurt anyone. See for yourself why this is a delightful small town with an enormous bite. I am wishing the town and businesses of Lewisburg all the luck in this year’s festival. If you are a newbie attending this year or the annual seasoned festival goer, I would love to hear your comments about it. Enjoy!
“A Local Look at Lewisburg, WV” -Getting to Know Cindy Lavender-Bowe
Wife to one nearly-perfect husband, Mark and Mom to one great kid, Atticus, is a rabid Pearl Jam fan and a non-profit crusader. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I still believe we can change the world one person at a time.
Check out my restaurant review of Stella’s in Lewisburg.