The Belize Tourism Industry Association(BTIA) Toledo Chapter in collaboration with the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) held its 15th Anniversary Chocolate Festival of Belize on May 19th and May 20th, 2023. The festival highlights the birthplace of cacao while celebrating cacao farmers, chocolatiers, and culture in style.
The two-day, four-event festival included the following activities with an estimated turnout of over 400 people at each event.
Official Cacao-Pod Breaking Ceremony and Cacao Symposium was a collaborative, official opening with BTIA Toledo Chapter and TCGA to acknowledge and celebrate Belizean cacao farmers. Key topics presented by TCGA included climate change impacts on small cacao producers in Belize and increased participation of Belizean cacao in the global value chain.
The Chocolate Gala was held at the exceptional Copal Tree Lodge venue offering brilliant music entertainment, appetizers, wine and spirits, dancing, and the most highlighted, exclusive access to the Chocolatiers of Belize who showcased their craft and offered delicious tastings of their products.
Cacao and Culture, a green event recognized to promote cultural preservation and strengthen community-based tourism, took place in one of Toledo’s beautiful villages, Santa Cruz at the Uxbenka archaeological site. The event program included remarks from Her Excellency Dame Froyla Tzalam, Honorable Oscar Requena, Honorable Anthony Mahler, Dr Amy Thompson, and other special guests. The Santa Cruz community gathered together to offer performances of the acclaimed deer dance and traditional cultural dances and share a number of local food dishes as well as various demonstrations of artisan crafts, chocolate products and village site tours.
The final celebration of the festival, Celebrate Chocolate, took place at the George Price Welcome Plaza in Punta Gorda Town with a family-friendly, plaza-style festival, filled with local artisans and business booths, food, beverages, activities for children and musical entertainment all in a chocolate-themed night.
Organizers would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the domestic and international supporters, including dignitaries, sponsors, chocolatiers, volunteers, vendors, publishers, influencers, travel writers, and all other persons and businesses who supported the success of the Chocolate Festival. Key sponsors included: the Belize Tourism Board, Belize Tourism Industry Association (National), Copal Tree Lodge, Love FM, NICH, Institute of Archaeology and Bowen and Bowen.
For additional information, please contact the BTIA Toledo Tourism Information Center at 614-7299 and [email protected].
Photos courtesy of the Belize Tourism Board