By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Sometimes more of the same is a great thing – especially when you’re talking chocolate.
Rainbow City’s Chocolate Festival 2014 will feature all that people love about the annual celebration of cocoa – the chocolate taste-off, the carnival, the egg-toss, the chug-a-lug contest, entertainment, vendors and a five-foot chocolate fountain, located in the old Book Corner location.
Even the event logo – created via a contest for students from John Jones, Southside and Westbrook elementary schools – was designed by the same young man who won last year’s contest: Dalton Collins, a Southside fifth-grader. Students were given the theme In Case of Emergency Eat More Chocolate.
“We like to think you don’t mess with perfection,” Mayor Terry John Calhoun said.
Dalton designed a flaming marshmallow, sitting atop a graham cracker, with firefighters using a truck and hose to douse it with chocolate. He said he was looking on the computer for ideas and saw a picture of a flaming marshmallow. He added the graham cracker and the firefighters. Dalton received a $25 gift card and his class at Southside Elementary – Kim Lankford’s class – will receive a pizza party.
The entertainment, of course, will be different. The band Orleans, known for their 1970s hits “Dance with Me,” “Still the One,” and “Love Takes Time,” will headline the show, taking the stage at 6:30 p.m.
Other entertainment includes Abundant Grace, a Talladega gospel trio that recently won first place out of 136 contestants at the Music City Holiday Talent Search in Nashville. Legendary southern gospel group The Florida Boys will perform, and local favorites The Jeremy Jackson Band will grace the stage as well.
America’s favorite cowboys Riders in the Sky perform just before the headliner. Riders in the Sky are performing members of the Grand Ole Opry and have recorded more than 30 albums.
Younger generations have been exposed to the Riders (perhaps unknowingly) as the group that performd “Woody’s Round Up” in the movie “Toy Story 2.” In 2002, the Riders earned a “Best Musical Album for Children” Grammy with an album of the same name. They earned their second Grammy in the same category in 2004 for “Monsters Inc. – Scream Factory Favorites,” a companion CD to Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.”
Rainbow City Mayor Terry John Calhoun said a big crowd is expected for the ninth annual festival.
People are invited to enter the Taste-Off contest, which offers cash prizes for the top Cakes, Pies, Candy, and Everything Else Chocolate, as well as a Best Overall winner that will receive $100. Contestants should bring their chocolate goodies to the old Blockbuster building in Rainbow Plaza by 10:30 a.m. on April 5. Judging will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the winners announced at 4:30 p.m. – along with the winners of the egg-toss and the chug-a-lug contest.
In conjunction with the chocolate festival, the hunt will be on for the “Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow … City” – a hidden certificate that will earn the finder a treasure chest of prizes expected to be valued at more than $3,000.
Clues will be given each week until the certificate is located, beginning this week. Clues will be announced each Thursday on WXSB, MIX 102.9 and Power 107.5.
“The certificate will not be buried or in a tree,” Calhoun explained, adding it would not be placed somewhere that would require climbing. He said it may be in a location that is accessible 24/7, and it may not. The certificate will be within the Rainbow City limits.
The carnival will open on the night of April 4 and continue through the festival on April 5.
The event schedule is:
10 a.m. – Festival opens
10-10:30 a.m. – Receiving baked items for the Taste-Off in the old Blockbuster location
11 a.m.-1 p.m. – Judging Taste-Off
11 a.m. – Chocolate Fountain opens
11-11:30 a.m. – Register for chug-a-lug and egg toss contests (in front of small stage)
11:45 a.m. – Chug-a-lug contest (small stage)
12 p.m. (approximately) – Egg toss
1-1:45 p.m. – Abundant Grace
2:15-3:15 p.m. – The Florida Boys
3-6 p.m. – Sponsors area opens
3:30-4:30 p.m. – Jeremy Jackson Band
4:30-4:45 p.m. – Winner of Treasure Hunt, Taste-Off, egg toss and chug-a-lug announced.
5-6 p.m. – Riders in the Sky
6:30-8 p.m. – Orleans.