Thursday, October 20, 2016

Syracuse Wine & Chocolate Festival gets a makeover

Anyone who attended last fall's Wine & Chocolate Festival at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse probably wouldn't give it a good review.

A crowd of about 4,000, roughly double any previous crowd, showed up, surprising organizers and resulting in long lines and a shortage of wine and chocolate, not a good thing for a festival that is named for the two items and for which people pay in advance to taste.

Organizers of this year's event, scheduled for November 26, promise a lot of changes. One of the most obvious will be splitting it into two sessions for better crowd management -- 2 to 5 and 6 to 9 p.m. Admission to each session will be limited to about 1,500 people. And, the event will return to the Fairgrounds' Horticulture Building, smaller than the Exhibit Center where it was held for one year, but a building with a better layout for such festivals.

This is one of a series of Wine & Chocolate Festivals held around the state. Next up are dates in Binghamton (December 3), Buffalo (January 28, 2017), Albany (March 18), Utica (April 29), and Watertown (July 22).

The Syracuse area festival will feature dozens of vendors offering wine, chocolate, plus spirits and other foods, plus cooking demonstrations. The ticket price includes unlimited samplings of wine and a visit to the chocolate fountain. Other items are available for purchase. Bottles of wine are available for purchase, and the fest donates $1 from each sale to the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. Tickets are now available online.

The Fairgrounds are located at 581 State Fair Boulevard, immediately adjacent to Route 690 just west of Syracuse. Directions are available online.

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