During the third week of May, the City of Oakdale comes alive with its annual Chocolate Festival celebration. Approximately 25,000 visitors descend upon this relatively sleepy town to partake in the many different ways to enjoy this sugary confection, including handmade fudge, chocolate-covered caramel apples, chocolate-dipped frozen fruits, and chocolate-candied sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and pecans.
And there's much to do around the festival grounds. For example, my son's favorite activity of the day was learning from a real prospector how to pan for gold, while my daughter especially enjoyed the thrills of the carnival rides and thumbing through the arts-and-crafts displays. Oh, and let's not forget about the live music and the classic car showcase.
The City of Oakdale was founded in 1871 when the Stockton & Visalia Railroad met the Copperopolis Railroad. Oakdale goes by the slogan "Cowboy Capital of the World." Its place in chocolate history began in 1965 when the city became the home to a satellite plant of Hershey Chocolate. Although the plant closed in January 2008, the festival remains an extremely popular event for tourists and the Oakdale population alike.