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Jonesborough prepares for sweet Valentine’s festival

It is not a secret that Jonesborough knows how to invent and throw a festival. And this year’s inaugural Chocolate Fest will be no exception, as the Jonesborough Area Merchants & Services Association puts the final touches on what is expected to turn Tennessee’s Oldest Town into Tennessee’s Sweetest Town.
On Saturday, Feb. 13, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Jonesborough’s Main Street will be filled with the sweet smells of chocolate treats. The chocolate will be flowing and it is recommended to purchase tickets online prior to Feb. 9 by visiting jonesboroughtn.org.
After Feb. 9, tickets will only be available on the day of Chocolate Fest at the International Storytelling Center beginning at 10 a.m.
The idea of Chocolate Fest is simple, as it falls around the event’s theme of “Forget Love…I’d Rather Fall Into Chocolate.” The Jonesborough Area Merchants & Services Association hopes that Chocolate Fest will draw even more foot traffic into the businesses as There are several chocolate-themed events throughout the year, but when The Lollipop Shop owner Jeff Gurley visited a chocolate festival in West Virginia on a daytrip with his family, he knew there would be a way to organize a similar event the “Jonesborough Way.”
“Jonesborough is home to numerous events and festivals throughout the year, many of them have been inspirations for other areas to do something similar,” Gurley said. “But, there is just something different and special about how Jonesborough folks put together an event, and that is what sets up apart from the rest.”
Nearly 25 chocolate stations will be set up in downtown Jonesborough, including dark chocolate espresso beans to popular chocolate covered gummy bears. Many of the businesses downtown will be offering savory chocolate-inspired treats. Some Jonesborough businesses that are members of the Jonesborough Area Merchants & Services Association will be set up at the International Storytelling Center with even more chocolate stations.
“We selected the hours of 11 to 4 to give folks time to shop, have lunch in Jonesborough and finish with the chocolate tastings, or begin with chocolate tastings and end with dinner,” Gurley said.
There will also be other activities as part of Chocolate Fest, including two fire pits at the courthouse square offering s’mores kits and chocolate face painting. And, a Mr. and Mrs. Chocolate Fest will be crowned after a chocolate-eating contest. Golden tickets will also be placed in selected bags, as guests will have a chance at winning cash prizes or gift certificates to local businesses.
The event will end with the popular Candy Bingo game at The Lollipop Shop.
The fun does not stop there however; Chocolate Fest has already turned into a week-long celebration as area restaurants will be offering chocolate-inspired items on their menus Feb. 8 – Feb. 14.
“This is something that I can see the Merchants Association and Jonesborough growing,” Gurley said. “The possibilities are endless when it comes to how far we can take this. I’ve already been brainstorming for next year.”
To purchase tasting tickets for Chocolate Fest, visit jonesboroughtn.org and click on “I want to” followed by “purchase town event tickets.” Tickets are available in denominations of $5 and will only be available online through Feb. 9. After Feb. 9, tickets will be available on Feb. 13 at the International Storytelling Center beginning at 10 a.m.
For additional information about Chocolate Fest, call 753-3819.