Escondido, CA

Chocolate festival cancelled, Chamber, Downtown Business Assocation disagree on why

The Escondido Downtown Business Association (DBA) announced last week that it would be canceling its annual “For the Love of Chocolate Festival,” in February.

The DBA and the Escondido Chamber of Commerce disagree as to the cause of the cancellation.

In its press release announcing the cancellation the DBA said the festival, first created in 2011, was cancelled because the Chamber declined to pay a debt. ”A funding shortfall brought on by the refusal of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce to pay a substantial debt owed to the DBA, is cited as the main factor in the cancellation of this event.”

The Times-Advocate contacted Rorie Johnston, director of the Escondido Chamber and asked her for a comment. “Since a check was sent on December 22, which they have not cashed, not sure what to make of this…” she answered back.

We forwarded Mrs. Johnston’s comments back to the DBA, whose member,

Alex MacLachlan answered back: “The Escondido DBA has not received ownership proceeds or accounting from the TWO 2014 street fairs that we worked the same way with the same responsibilities for over 20 years. Mrs. Johnston has been quoted in the UT saying that the Escondido Arts Partnership was the co sponsor for the Spring fair and is the reason they did not pay the DBA. The EAP is run by Wendy Wilson, who was a sitting DBA Board member at the time of the Spring street fair and was in charge of locating various volunteers.”

MacLachlan added, “Sherry Yardley, a local events coordinator, assisted the DBA in booking talent for the Community stage, our President, Kathy Rubesha spoke to Mrs. Johnston at the morning meeting of the Spring street fair and informed her of a resurgence in DBA merchants interest and our continued existence, and I had several responsibilities working with the event coordinator, Kennedy and Associates, until the last street sweeper left Grand avenue.”

The festival was created by the DBA in 2011 as a means to showcase downtown Escondido businesses during a very difficult recession and has since become a key funding event for downtown retailers and popular Valentines Day destination for North County residents.

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