The 9th Annual Chocolate Festival of Belize was held this past weekend (May 22nd – 24th), in the charming town of Punta Gorda, Toledo. This 3 day event was designed to raise awareness of the Toledo District as a responsible tourism destination, and to extend the tourist season. Over the years, the festival has helped improve the lives of many families, whether through direct employment in the tourism industry, or through the 'ripple effect,' spreading money throughout the District.
While we could not make it to the Wine and Chocolate night held on Friday, May 22nd which typically features live music, fine wine, Belizean chocolate, and Belikin's specially brewed Chocolate Stout or the Grand Finale on Sunday, May 24th which highlights cultural, musical performances and dances, cacao drinks and dishes and crafts by local artisans, we did make it to the Taste of Toledo Street Fair held on Saturday, May 23rd.
The pedestrian-only street fair was an all-day event held on the Front Street in Punta Gorda town, which featured cultural displays and areas showcasing Toledo's five main ethnic groups: Kriol, Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo and East Indian. Each area displayed art, food and music from their respective cultures.
Here are some images highlighting how we spent our day:
The painted decagon sign welcoming travellers to Punta Gorda.
The long row of booths and vendors at the street fair.
Street Fair goer learning more about the Maroon Creole Drum School.
“Would you like more chocolate in your smoothie?” Maybe just a little more!
The Chocolate Smoothie was definitely worth the wait.
Chocolate infused drinks were a hit at the street fair.
A refreshing taste of all-natural chocolate milk.
If you haven’t tried Cocoa Wine you’re certainly missing out.
What is a Chocolate Festival without Belikin’s Chocolate Stout?
This chocolate dip sent our taste buds on an amazing flight.
Anyone care for some chocolate beef burgers with a chocolate stout beer? These visitors sure looked like they were enjoying their chocolate lunch!
Buying some Belizean chocolate products to take back home for mom and dad.
IXCACAO chocolates and tees were selling fast!
Various chocolate items were on sale by the Maya Center Mayan Museum.
Beautifully hand-crafted Mayan artwork.
These colorful ceramic wall figures really caught our eyes.
This taxidermied Crocodile Head was one of the more unique crafts available for purchase at the Street Fair.
We just loved the Cacao displays.
Can you believe these mini bars are actually Dark Chocolate Soaps?
Various musical instruments on sale from the Warasa Garifuna Drum School.
The Warasa Garifuna Drum School also graced the crowd with various musical selections that had the crowd dancing.
This Street Fair goer was vybing to the Garifuna Music!
The Street Fair had various competitions taking place throughout the day. Here we have the Taste of Toledo Cookery Competition winner with his chocolate infused dish.
The Beer Drinking Competition winner knew he had the win in the bag!
The Street Fair isn’t only about Chocolate/ Cacao presentations and competitions, as seen here by the Watermelon Eating Contest Winner.
You don’t have to be an expert in the Garifuna Culture to take part in their cultural activities; all you need is an open-mind and a willingness to learn.
Learning to make your very own Garifuna instruments is another great activity to partake in at the Chocolate Festival.
Have you ever gotten your hair braided? This art takes great skill and many Belizean women provide this service to travellers at a reasonable fee.
This young traveller definitely enjoys her new hair-doo.
After a long day, how about simply relaxing on a pier and reminiscing with friends and family?
Maya Island Air takes this time to congratulate all the planners, sponsors, partners and volunteers, for a very successful 2015 Chocolate Festival of Belize and we surely look forward to making it to the 3-day celebration in 2016!