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Welcome to Chocolate Town

Fairfax City prepares for annual Chocolate Lovers Festival.

For decades, chocolate has preoccupied David Andersen of Fairfax. Ever since his youth, when he started working in a candy kitchen on a 1950s Ocean City, N.J. boardwalk, Andersen has made candy. During the nearly 25 years Andersen was a teacher in Princeton, N.J., he made candy on his spare time for his own enjoyment.

After moving to Fairfax, he volunteered for the city’s Chocolate Lovers Festival during its early years. Now, Andersen is making and selling his own chocolates and candy so others may indulge in their sweet tooths.

"It’s actually an amazing event. The fact that we’re able to sell chocolate candy when there are two floors of vendors is an amazing thing," said Andersen, whose started selling his chocolates three years ago. His business, Dave’s Candy Kitchen, will make its second appearance at the Chocolate Lovers Festival this year.

Andersen will be one of many vendors at this year’s annual Chocolate Lovers Festival, slated for Saturday and Sunday Feb. 7 and 8 in Old Town Fairfax. The festival attracts hundreds of area sweet tooths in search of satisfying their chocolate cravings.

"We see some of the same people year after year. It’s always nice to see the same faces," said Doris Tyler of Herndon, whose business Chesapeake Chocolates has made several appearances at the festival.

Tyler said her business' barrels of chocolate crabs attracts the eyes of would-be chocolate consumers, but it is their truffles and butter crunch that reels them in.

"We’re always keeping our eye on these things," said Tyler, when asked how her business finds festivals and events to promote their chocolate.

In addition to the candy vendors at Old Town Hall, the Chocolate Lovers Festival will also feature children’s programs, a pancake breakfast, and the "Chocolate Challenge," a display and auction of chocolate sculptures molded by area chefs.

Portions of the proceeds for this year’s festival will go to the Ronald McDonald House, a center for families whose seriously ill children are being treated at local hospitals. Northern Virginia’s Ronald McDonald House opened in 1998 and is located near Fairfax Hospital.