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Fairgrounds host Wine and Chocolate Festival

The first-annual Central New York Wine and Chocolate Festival was held this past Saturday, Nov. 24 at the International Building on the New York State Fairgrounds.

The decadent daylong event featured a day and evening session. Revelers were able to sample tastes from Upstate New York wineries such as Thousand Islands, Eagle Crest Vineyards, Ashley Lynn, Red Barn, Four Chimneys Organic, Buttonwood Grove, Cascata, Merritt Estates, Tickle Hill, Warm Lake Estates, Pleasant Valley, Lakeland and Ventosa Vineyards. Local chocolate purveyors included Meyers Chocolates, Lindt Master Chocolatiers and Woodmark Chocolates.

The 1 to 4 p.m. session went smoothly according to event director Pam Levine. However the second session, which lasted from 5 to 8 p.m., was sold out in just 45 minutes, leaving several festivalgoers frustrated.

"We outgrew our venue in our first year," Levine said. "We had about 2,200 people total attend the event. We didn't know what to expect. Next year we'll have more room for the tasters and wine and chocolate vendors."

Levine says that the festival, a group effort by Strategic Partnership Services, will most likely be moving to a larger venue within the fairgrounds for next year.

"We wanted to provide something exciting for the holiday weekend," Levine said. "Thanksgiving is a time when a lot of family members come back to the area, and a lot of people come from out of town. We wanted to set up an event that everyone would enjoy."

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