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27 Jan, Friday
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Montreal Families

Festival a delight for kids (and adults)

It was only 10:30 a.m. but my daughter and I were greedily inhaling the scent of chocolate. We had decided to spend part of the Victoria Day weekend at the Bromont Chocolate Festival in the Eastern Townships, about an hour’s drive from our Montreal home. My 7-year-old daughter Maya had enthusiastically endorsed the trip, hardly able to believe that there was a festival devoted entirely to one of her favourite treats.

Now, standing at the door of the Bromont arena, we gazed in awe at the array of goodies before us. Booth after booth offered chocolate fare, such as decorated bonbons, body scrubs and chocolate-scented soaps.

As we entered, a young woman came bustling over to Maya, asking if she wanted to join a group of kids painting with melted chocolate on a piece of white paper. But Maya was tugging my hand, her eyes staring in wonder at something a few metres away. A tall, elegantly dressed woman was strolling through the centre, her dress cut low in the back to reveal what looked like a magnificent flower cascading down her back. As we moved closer, I could see it had been painted on with chocolate, but in an extraordinary range of colours from deep brown to blue and white. “It’s so beautiful,” Maya whispered with a look of rapture on her face. The woman turned back towards a booth where you could pay to have the body painting done. A quick look at the prices, which could easily run upward of $40 and I decided to steer Maya elsewhere.

Luckily, that wasn’t too difficult, given the array of products for sale — and sample. We wandered down the aisles, nibbling on homemade chocolate pralines and stopping to taste chocolate ice cream. In addition to the sweet goodies, we could also try various olive oils and vinegars as well as local cheeses. We stopped to smell and admire creams, soaps and other beauty products. The arena was busy but not too crowded, with people pleasantly making way for parents pushing babies in strollers and toddlers scampering around.

As the parent of a second child who suffers from food allergies, I was pleased to note how careful people were about handing samples to children. “Is this OK for you to eat? Can I ask your mother,” several vendors said to my daughter. It was also clear from the number of products containing nuts or carrying warnings about possible traces of different allergens like peanuts and milk, that this might not be an ideal outing for a child who has food allergies.

An hour later, our stomachs couldn’t handle any more and we headed outside. We had the option of taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, but the long line-up of people waiting made us change our minds. Instead, we opted to walk up a small hill to Bromont’s main street, filled with small stores and restaurants. We wandered for a few blocks, enjoying the sunshine, watching families out strolling with kids, and digesting all the sweets we had consumed.

We stumbled across Le Musée du chocolat de la Confiserie Bromont, a confectionary that has housed a chocolate museum since 1993. Here you can learn about the history of chocolate and other treats as well as admire various chocolate sculptures and paintings. The chocolate is made on site and the museum offers guided tours in English and French that takes you through all the steps of making milk, dark and white chocolate.

Although the festival offered various activities for kids that afternoon, we opted to head home, having filled ourselves up on several chocolate delights. The Eastern Townships is a great weekend family getaway and the chocolate festival a perfect excuse to check out Bromont and the surrounding area.

For a complete list of this year’s activities, costs, a map of the site and directions to Bromont, visit www.feteduchocolat.ca.

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