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Inaugural Celebration of Chocolate coming to Cranberry

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

New Year's weight-loss resolutions will be put on hold this weekend when Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau hosts a Celebration of Chocolate.

The inaugural event, held Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 22 and 23, at the Pittsburgh Marriott North at Cranberry Woods, will feature an array of sweets from local candy makers, bakeries and restaurants.

Hourly demonstrations by vendors will give guests insight into making everything from protein bars and raspberry towers to fondue and pancakes. Businesses also will be doling out samples of ice cream, fudge, cake, coffee and beer.

Sara DiBello, communications and marketing coordinator for the bureau, says thousands of people are expected to turn out for the sugar rush.

“The vendors are very diverse,” she said. “People are excited. Our Facebook page has had a lot of hits.”

Since the Celebration of Chocolate is family-friendly, a children's area will be open for the duration of the event. Created by Butler County Community College students, it is a place where kids can not only eat sweets, but play with them, too — whether it's building log cabins out of Twix bars or hobnobbing with the one-and-only Willy Wonka.

The fictional candy magnate won't be the only celebrity on hand.

The King family, local farmers and stars of Great American Country's popular reality show “Farm Kings,” will compete in a bake-off. The audience will decide whose tasty creation wears the crown.

For folks who are still watching their waistline, the celebration offers guilt-free diversions such as a chocolate-colored clothing fashion show, massages, historical presentations, raffles, appearances by furry, brown residents of the Butler County Humane Society and sales of non-edible goods such as cookbooks, soaps, ornaments, candles and clothing.

In addition to buying and sampling food, patrons can also donate non-perishable items to support Butler-area food banks.

Kristy Locklin i a freelance writer.

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