The 20th Annual Oakhurst Fall Festival -- a weekend of chocolate, wine and beer tastings and sales, live music, Corvette car show, gourmet food, children's activities, arts & crafts and other vendors -- will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Oakhurst Community Park.
"This is one of the signature events that our whole community can rally around," said Darin Soukup, director of the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the event. "We have a lot of local businesses participating and it's just a great opportunity for all of us to get outside and play together and really be a community together."
"We wanted to enhance our offerings, so this year we've also invited beer vendors to participate -- small breweries -- two of them opened in Mariposa," said Todd Miller, Oakhurst Fall Festival chairperson, adding that along with the tastings, this is the first year vendors can also sell bottles of their wines and beers.
"Also to enhance the experience, we've added a children's section which will be really nice, the Children's Museum of the Sierra is adding to that and there will also be miniature horse rides. We've really tried to make it more of a family atmosphere."
For small, local business owners like 28-year-old Vanessa Cornett of Coarsegold, owner of Yosemite Fudge Factory and a mother of two, community support at the annual event is a big help.
"It's really a big boost for small businesses like me to be able to make some money," Cornett said. "I encourage everyone to come out to the chocolate festival and support the small businesses that work really hard all year round."
Cornett, along with around ten other chocolate vendors in the chocolate pavilion, will be selling delectable chocolate chunks ranging from the classics to more innovative creations, like Cornett's pumpkin-flavored fudge, infused with real pumpkins, cloves and ginger to get a natural, "just right" flavor.
"I enjoy making people happy and getting them excited about chocolate," Cornett said. "When it's compared to a loved ones' treat, that's always nice. People have come up to me and said, 'This is almost as good as what my grandma used to make,' and there is nothing better than what grandma makes, or mom."
Cornett said she also loves being able to speak with customers face-to-face, a real "treat" compared to her usual whole-sale at area stores.
The Oakhurst Fall Festival, formerly the Chocolate and Wine Festival, changed its name this year to expand its offerings.
"We've changed the form this year, trying to expand it to include more vendors, more booths and more tastings, trying to get our restaurants very involved as well," Miller said. "We are the chamber of commerce, so our job is to do things to bring revenue for our members, and we try to deal only with Madera County whenever we can."
General admission is $2 and free for children 12 years of age and younger. Admission is $1 for students, military and seniors.
Wine and beer tasting tickets are $1 and souvenir wine glasses are $8.
A special package is being offered at the gate for $35, which includes two wine glasses, admission for two, and 20 tasting tickets. The package is available at a presale price of $30 through Friday at the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce.
Vendors and activities
Along with an array of chocolatiers, participating wineries include Ficklin Vineyards, Quady Winery, Solitary Cellars and San Joaquin Wine Co. Breweries include Mammoth Brewing Co., Full Circle Brewing Co. and Three Monkeys Brewing Co.
Children's activities include face painting, spin art, art projects and more. Diamond W Ranch Miniature Horse Rides and Oakawahnee Ranch Alpacas will also be participating.
The "Corvettes in the Park" car show will be held Saturday, presented by The High Sierra Corvette Club. Awards will be awarded for best engine, best paint, club participation and a variety of people's choice and sponsor awards. Judging will be done by Yosemite High School auto shop students. Details: Gary Nolan, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entertainment includes a performance from the Yosemite High School Band at 10 a.m., live music from RockTherapy from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., music from radio station 97.5 the Fox Live Remote from noon to 2 p.m., and music from a DJ for the remainder of the day.
This year's primary Oakhurst Fall Festival sponsor is Sullivan's Tire Pros featuring BF Goodrich, Michelin and Uniroyal. Chocolate and wine section sponsor is Golden 1 Credit Union, and Camarena Health is sponsoring the children's activities.
Additional sponsors include Wild Wonderful Women, Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, Budweiser, Sierra Tel and the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce.