When I was a kid, I used to think about what it would be like to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. I knew it wasn’t real, but it was still fun to dream about. And while there’s no actual Willy Wonka theme park yet (Disney, get on it), there’s something almost as good: Candy Palooza.
Over the weekend, the Fifth Annual Candy Palooza took place at the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield. The festival featured everything from factory tours to carnival rides, live entertainment and, of course, candy. Lots and lots of candy.
“Candy Palooza is all about celebrating the joy of candy with the community. There’s nothing else like it in the area and it’s an honor to continue hosting this special, free event,” said John Jamison, Jelly Belly Vice President of Retail Operations.
If you’re thinking this would be a great place to take the kids, well you’re right, but it doesn’t stop there. For those of drinking age, there’s the Jelly Belly Chocolate & Wine Experience, which paired Suisun Valley wines, like Wooden Valley, Vezer and GV Cellars with the company’s outstanding chocolates. I mean, chocolate and wine, come on.
“It was a lot fun to participate in this year’s event,” said Mike Brossier, Owner of Sonoma Harvest Olive Oil and Winery. “We enjoyed pouring our deep pink colored Rosé with flavors of juicy watermelon, raspberries and white flowers. We also poured our Sonoma Harvest Pinot Noir with fresh plum, raspberry and bing cherry flavors dominating.”
Speaking of cherries, the chocolate and wine experience was held in the Very Cherry section of the Grand Bean Room. Elsewhere in the Grand Bean Room, you could find other local chocolatiers offering their wares for sample or sale. A chocoholic’s dream.
There’s so much to do at the Jelly Belly Factory – check out the interactive tour, which lets you wander through the factory on an elevated path, or see how the candy is made and get free samples at the end. They’ve recently redone the tour to include high definition videos and interactive exhibits.
You can purchase your fill of confections at the Jelly Belly Candy Store, sit down and relax at the Jelly Belly Café or purchase handmade fudge in the Chocolate Shop.
The festival was so big, the factory couldn’t even contain it. Outside, there were arts and crafts exhibits, carnival rides and midway games – just like going to the fair. There were also performances by local artists, like the Bliss Dance Company and the Vacaville Live Music Center.
“Candy Palooza is a great event for the entire family. The event transforms the already fun filled Jelly Belly visitor center into an outdoor extravaganza,” said Anand Patel, President of the Fairfield Visitors Bureau.
For those of us who have a sweet tooth – i.e., most of us – Candy Palooza is sugar nirvana. Mark your calendars for next year or stay tuned for upcoming events. “More fun is planned this fall. On Saturday, October 28th Jelly Belly hosts a Halloween Breakfast with Mr. Jelly Belly and Munchkin Masquerade where children come in costume and parade through the factory,” said Jamison. Keep in mind, the first 300 children will even receive treats!