OAKDALE -- It's the "Oakdale Chocolate Festival," not the "Hershey Chocolate Festival."
That is more evident than ever now that the city's Hershey plant has moved to Mexico.
Even without the chocolate company that inspired the event, the festival will go on.
Same time. Same place. New candy.
Hershey chocolate products will appear at the 16th annual festival, but there will not be a Hershey booth.
"Hershey doesn't have any employees in Oakdale anymore to man a booth," said festival Chief Executive Officer Mary Guardiola.
But 30 of the 200 festival booths will sell chocolate, including two run by Oakland-based Sconza Candy Co.
Sconza is the family-owned business that bought the former Hershey factory and hopes to be moved in by the end of the summer.
Dove, Ghirardelli and small independent candy makers will join in the festival for the first time this year.
Guardiola estimates 80,000 people will attend the event regardless of Hershey's absence. That's about the same number as last year and the year before.
This year's theme is Cowboys and Chocolate. Cooking demonstrations will teach festivalgoers how to prepare cowboy grub in addition to chocolate treats. There also will be pony rides and a Western show. The Oakdale Cowboy Museum will be open, too.
Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2382.