Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate

Truffles, bars, sauces, fudge, milk, dark and white — expect to see every shape, form, texture and flavor of the sweet confection at the 6th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival.

The mouth-watering event will be part the First Friday art walk, March 5, and will continue through Sunday, March 7, at various venues in downtown Ashland.

"It's a great event for those who love food, and also those who want to learn more about chocolate," said Karolina Wyszynska, director of sales and marketing at Ashland Springs Hotel.

The chocolate extravaganza will kick off from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday during the art walk. Several downtown galleries will provide chocolate treats and local wines to accompany the art experience. A chocolate-themed exhibit, "Contended Confessions of the Curious Chocolate Caper," will be featured at Concetti Fine Arts in the Claycomb Mall, 40 N. Main St., Ashland.

The wealth of the chocolate will be at the Ashland Springs Hotel, where 30 Oregon chocolatiers will present decadent specialties from hot chocolate to organic chocolate, chocolate-covered strawberries and even chocolate-tequilla truffles. Tastings will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the hotel, 212 E. Main St. Various roasts by Noble Coffee and local wines also will be available in the Palm Room. There will be live music by Gabe and David Young and Dennis Freese.

On Saturday morning, several local chefs will submit a chocolate dessert to be judged by food connoisseurs. The chefs also will submit two additional desserts one for public display and one for bidding. Money from the dessert auction will benefit ACCESS, Inc.

Participating chocolatiers and vendors also may submit their best chocolate product to be judged in the "Best Oregon Chocolate Product" competition at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the hotel's Grand Ballroom Conservatory. Locals vendors will showcase chocolate body products, candles, aprons with chocolate designs and jewelry — not for consumption.

Throughout the weekend there will be seminars, classes and demos, including "Chocolate: Unlocking The Mystery And Goodness From Bean To Bar" and "Healthy Chocolate for your Healthy Body" on Saturday and "Learn How To Taste Fine Chocolates" on Sunday at the hotel, as well as a chocolate sculpture demonstration at 3 p.m. Saturday at Allyson's Kitchen, 115 E. Main St., Ashland.

Waterstone Spa estheticians will offer chocolate facials ($25) and body treatments starting at 4:30 p.m. in the hotel's Crystal Room. Reservations are required and appointments will include a complimentary chocolate martini.

New this year, the Chocolate, Wine and Movie Gala will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Varsity Theater. The event will feature pairings of Coastal Mist chocolates and HV Cellars' wine, a presentation by chocolatier Kevin Shaw and wine maker Terry Luce and a screening of the 2009 romance, "Crazy Heart." Tickets are $30.

Children are invited to explore the transformation of a cocoa bean into a delicious candy bar at ScienceWorks Hands on Museum from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $2.50.

Shops and restaurants downtown will offer discounts for just saying "chocolate." If you say the word at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival box office, you'll receive a 50 percent discount on all plays staged March 5-7.

"It's worth mentioning chocolate this weekend," Wyszynska said.

A one-day pass to the chocolate festival is $15 and includes all tastings, wine and seminars at the Ashland Springs Hotel.

Visit for a comprehensive list of chocolate events and participants.

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