“It went fantastically,” said Alex MacLachlan, president of the Downtown Business Association, when he was asked how the Escondido Chocolate Festival did on Saturday.
“We sold out of the just over 300 tickets The Escondido Downtown Business Association made available by Friday afternoon, so the weather that was in the forecast for Saturday became a moot point,” said MacLachlan, alluding to the rainy morning.
He added, “I checked ID’s from ten different states and six California counties, so it was good sign our marketing reached people from outside the area, who were willing to drive to Escondido and experience our historic downtown and its fine businesses.”
The Escondido Chocolate Festival was held inside 22 separate downtown businesses along Grand avenue and side streets. Event attendees purchased a wristband and then walked from business to business where they met the owners, experienced their stores, salons, dance studios, restaurants, coffee house, art galleries, and prehistoric museum, while tasting gourmet chocolates paired with either wine, California craft beer, or champagne.
Attendees got a map with all participating businesses printed on it, and each location on the map was marked off when they visited. At the end of the event, hundreds of attendees returned to the Will Call booth to exchange their completed maps for a raffle ticket, which entered them into a drawing for nearly 20 gifts donated from downtown businesses, such as gift baskets, certificates, a tea set, oil painting, and weekend away with a national hotel chain.
As an added bonus, if an attendee spent $20 or more at a participating business downtown, they showed their receipt and received bonus raffle tickets.
Preliminary inquiries to downtown business owners and attendees alike, have received very positive reviews with stories of brisk business and stores full of happy people.
The Escondido Chocolate Festival coincided with the Second Saturday Art walk, which added to the experience of event attendees. Distinction Gallery also had a reality show filming inside their gallery on Saturday and reported a full house most of the afternoon and evening.
“The Escondido Downtown Business Association would like to thank our participating and non participating downtown businesses for putting on a great show,” said MachLachlan. “Even businesses from outside the historic core, donated raffle prizes or donated their time and products inside a tasting location to be paired with the beverage in that location.
He added, “On a day where the early weather could have discouraged shoppers and diners from going downtown, we are very pleased to have over three hundred people come to downtown Escondido and experience much of what she has to offer. Some attendees wearing step counters reported a 2.5 mile total distance to reach all tasting locations, which got me thinking of how we can make the event foot print just a little bigger next year to create a full 5K race. 2018 Chocolate Crawl 5000 anyone?”