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Decadent chocolate, a scavenger hunt and even a visit by a dancing monkey courtesy of Point Breeze Credit Union, awaited those who attended Bel Air’s Chocolate Festival.

The event Saturday at the Bel Air Reckord Armory was a sunny affair that offered up a salacious smattering of sweets, and, while not reaching the monumental attendance that 2008 posted, still saw strong numbers.

New to the event this year was a downtown scavenger hunt, which a great number of shops and stores in the downtown area participated in.

The scavenger hunt was just another way to continue to promote Bel Air’s commerce, Scott T. Walker, executive director of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, explained.

“Our goal is ultimately to promote Bel Air, its shops and its services,” Walker said. “This scavenger hunt, and the chocolate festival itself, is just another great way to bring families in and have them explore Bel Air.”

Scattered throughout 30 merchants, from Broadway south to Friendly’s were six gift cards worth $25 each, good toward six of the participating stores. Clues were offered at the chocolate festival, and families had until the stores closed at 5 p.m. to find and redeem the gift cards.

The sunny weather made for an excellent opportunity for a little exercise, Tara Glodek, of Aberdeen. said.

“I know I couldn’t resist coming to the chocolate festival,” Glodek, who returned for her third straight event, said, “but this gorgeous weather convinced me to get out and try out the scavenger hunt.”

Others, however, were drawn only to the prospect of delicious chocolate and freebies.

Kim Tracy, of Edgewood, made sure she arrived early to take part in the free samples before they ran out.

“It’s like being at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory,” Tracy said. “Everyone who gets here early gets a ticket, and everyone ends up with a face full of chocolate.”

Inside, the smell of sweet chocolate and fresh-baked cookies was nearly overwhelming.

Chocolate-lovers young and old visited the 16 vendor booths, including Moores Candies, Bel Air Bakery, Tastefully Simple and even Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Children were entertained by a multitude of events, such as ring-tossing, arts and crafts and a gingerbread mountain.

“It’s a great event for all involved, Walker said. “Everyone has a good time, and it helps the downtown of Bel Air at the same time. It’s win-win.”


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