No matter their ages, visitors to the Museum of Science & Industry's Festival of Chocolate are destined to feel like kids in a candy store.
Billed as a chocoholic's dream come true, the largest event of its kind in Florida will return to MOSI this weekend for the third consecutive year.
An event that's become a sweet tradition among MOSI's guests and employees alike will feature close to 30 chocolatiers from the Tampa Bay area and beyond. They will be offering samples and sales of everything chocolaty from truffles, cakes and cupcakes, to cookies, brownies and ice cream.
There will even be meat rubs, barbecue sauces and balsamic vinegars made with chocolate, a treat often touted as one of the world's most popular pleasures.
Besides simply satisfying their taste buds with treats others have created, children are encouraged to visit Kids-4-Chocolate, where they can make their own chocolate goodies. At the same time their parents may wish to take in a variety of interactive demonstrations by award-winning pastry chefs.
Eventgoers will also have the opportunity to view sculptures made entirely of chocolate and enjoy a Cocoa Couture Fashion Show in which all the garments are created from candy wrappers by students at Tampa's International Academy of Design and Technology.
New this year is the Chocolate Check Up where people can learn about the history, health and science of chocolate.
"MOSI is focused on education and fun so this festival fits that bill," said festival producer Aileen Mand, a former Disney World producer who has partnered with her husband, Edgar Schaked, a third-generation chocolatier.
The event, which debuted five years ago in Orlando, has also taken place in others sites across Florida.
"Each presentation has an incredible entertainment, education and scientific component to it," Mand said.
Mand is especially excited about a never-been-done-before element in this year's festival. She calls it the world's two largest practical science experiments and she has high hopes both will earn a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
"It's all about learning and playing so we're building a large marshmallow launch that will propel those marshmallows into the largest-ever cup of hot chocolate," said Mand, noting that the plan is to have 700 gallons of cocoa in the cup.
Wit Ostrenko, MOSI's president and CEO, said the event presents a great opportunity for folks to learn about and have fun with one of America's favorite food.
"Who knew that dark chocolate had more antioxidants than blueberries and who thought they would ever be able to make armpit fudge?" Ostrenko said.
Entrance into the Festival of Chocolate is included in MOSI's cost of admission, $21.95 for adults and $17.95 for children. The entry fee is discounted by $10 for adult MOSI members and their children are admitted free.
Advance tickets are available at www.tampa.festivalofchocolate.com or at the MOSI box office, 4801 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa.
Visit www.festivalofchocolate.com or call (813) 438-4066 for more information.