Record crowds enjoyed this year’s Melton ChocFest

There was a record attendance for this year’s ChocFest event in Melton with more than 7,000 people enjoying plenty of tasty treats over the weekend.

Monday, 15th November 2021, 12:15 pm
Cathy Wright shows off some of her tasty treats on the Cathy's Chocolates and Cakes stall at ChocFest EMN-211115-105717001

People from all over the region joined locals in converging on the town’s livestock market for the festival, which this year had the added draw of PieFest being held on the same day after it was postponed earlier in the year due to coronavirus restrictions.

Aside from the traders, selling everything from chocolate-covered Melton pork pies to multiple flavours of fudge and vegan cakes, there talks and demonstrations in the food theatre and any number of workshops for both children and adults, teaching techniques on making Belgian chocolates, bespoke choc bars and apple pies, among others.

The El Eaga Gospel Choir entertained attendees with some wonderful singing and hot drinks and snacks were available all day from vendors dotted around the site.

The Aunt Annie's Fudge stand at Melton's ChocFest EMN-211115-105706001

Organiser Matthew O’Callaghan said: “We had just over 7,000 people attending this year which makes it the best ChocFest ever.”

Traders were grateful for the opportunity to get their products out to a wider audience after the pandemic wiped out last year’s festival programme.

Cathy’s Chocolates and Cakes, which are based in Nottinghamshire, was particularly relieved to be able to show off their delicious looking products.

The company has been run for a decade from her home by Cathy Wright, who is also a chartered surveyor three days a week.

Tony Vogel on the Shelly Bakes Vegan Cakes stall at Melton's ChocFest EMN-211115-105655001

She told the Melton Times: “We have a little studio at the back where everything is made by hand with no artificial flavours.

“This is a great time of the year for us with Christmas coming - it’s like harvest time for farmers.

“Then we have Valentine’s Day and Easter to follow when we also do very well.

“ChocFest is very important for us, it’s one of the highlights of the year for us.”

Attendees at Sunday's ChocFest fall silent as the Last Post is played over the tannoy at Melton Livestock Market at 11am to mark Remembrance Sunday EMN-211115-105727001

Shelly Bakes Vegan Cakes is the brainchild of husband and wife, Tony and Shelly Vogel, who are based in Cambridgeshire.

They are taking advantage of a trend for more people to stop eating meat and dairy products

Tony said: “More and more people seem to want to move to a vegan diet and a lot of people have eating intolerances so they are unable to eat dairy products.

“80 per cent of our customers are not actually vegans, though - they just like our cakes.

The chocolate Melton pork pies on the Dickinson and Morris stand at ChocFest EMN-211115-105633001

“A lot of people who become vegans say they miss chocolates and cakes but when they try ours they can’t tell the difference from the ones they ate before.”

He added; “This event is very important to us because we can get our cakes out to more people.

“We have travelled an hour to get here and many more people are aware of us now.”

The team on the stall for Aunt Annie’s Award-Winning Fudge were doing good business on Sunday.

This is a family firm, based in Lincolnshire, with the third generation now in charge of it.

The company, which also traded at last month’s East Midlands Food Festival in Melton, were selling 23 of its most popular fudge lines.

Kelly Stewart shows off one of the award-winning pies baked by March House Farm, at Sunday's PieFest event EMN-211115-105644001

There was also plenty of interest at the Dickinson and Morris stand, with chocolate pork pies proving particularly popular.

A saleswoman on the stall said: “We only make them one a year for ChocFest but they always sell well. We’ve had a lot of interest in them again today.”

Among the local businesses represented at the event was March House Farm, which is based at Great Dalby at a family farm.

It now boasts a deli and cafe, as well as a butchery, and its tasty pies enjoyed success at this year’s British Pie Awards in Melton.

Office manager Kelly Stewart, who serving on Sunday, told us: “An event like this gets our name out there and we can sell some of our products to more people outside the area.”

Dates have been announced for next year’s Melton food festival calendar, with the Artisan Cheese Fair taking place on April 30 and May 1.

PieFest will be on August 6 and 7, with the East Midlands Food Festival scheduled for October 1 and 2.