The fourth annual Red Hook & the Chocolate Festival celebrates the Dutchess County town’s long and historic association with the wildly popular and somewhat mystical/medicinal food. The Chocolate Factory was founded in Red Hook in 1888 by William H. Baker. Baker was no relation to the older and more famous Walter H. Baker Company, whose production of chocolate began in 1780 and whose name was synonymous with chocolate in America for a time; but Red Hook’s Baker was not above exploiting the coincidence to promote his business, starting what became known as the “chocolate wars.”
At the height of production, 20,000 pounds of chocolate were produced each day in Red Hook. New techniques in refrigeration changed the chocolate game in the early 1920s. The declining Red Hook factory was sold to the Walker Candy Company, which closed in the 1932.
The Festival, which takes place in the streets of Red Hook on Saturday, November 4, is a diverse chocolate-themed affair that combines the useful, the fun and the delicious. The day includes a chocolate-tasting demo led by Dan Budd at Taste Budd’s Café on West Market Street; “The Chocolate Wars,” a dessert-making competition for kids; Chocolate Olympics at the Red Hook Public Library; a Willy Wonka-themed event at “Chocolate Headquarters,” with prizes for Golden Ticket-holders; a skateboard race sponsored by the Board Room skateboard shop; a horse-and-wagon stroll through the streets of Red Hook; chocolate-tastings throughout the village and much more.
Red Hook & The Chocolate Festival is presented by the Red Hook Chamber of Commerce. For a complete description of events, times and places, visit www.redhookchamber.org.