A face full of chocolate? Well, maybe if you were lucky.


The participants in the chocolate pie-eating contest had the good fortune of experiencing the confectionery delight and devouring the spoils that came with it.


The 25th Annual St. Mary’s School Chocolate Festival was held on Saturday, on the school campus, and the event serves as a fundraiser for St. Mary’s Help of Christians Catholic School.


There was something for everyone – vendors, food, games, rides, live music, a book sale, but maybe the most popular place was the chocolate carousel, where people could buy individual pieces of the sweet treat cultivated from the cacao tree.


The event was a galvanized effort composed of people volunteer ing their time and enjoying the camaraderie associated with the chocolate festival.


“It’s a great time,” said Clark Smith, who along with a number of friends prepared food at the festival. “A lot of the community, parents, members of the church, attend the event to show their support. We raise money for the school for a number of different programs. We’re educating our youth, especially through the Catholic school, and, hopefully, we’re raising our children right in the eyes of God. It’s a worthy event and a good cause for our school. We always have a good time.”


Face painting, smiles and a love of chocolate were part of what seemed like a large groundswell populating the event grounds. The chocolate festival is a beneficial scenario for all that participate, said Cindy Grooms, who has been coming to the festival for the past seven years since her daughter began attending the school.


“She’s in the sixth grade,” said Grooms, of her daughter. “It’s great having the opportunity to watch the kids having a good time.”


The chocolate festival is a wholesome, family-oriented event, that’s held in a safe, controlled environment. Parents of children attending the school have embraced the chocolate festival and do their parts to make the happening go off seamlessly.


“All of the parents are asked to bring something in,” said Leslie Anaclerio. “We have a contest for the children. If you bring in an item, your name goes into a hat, and we hold a drawing for a huge Hershey’s bank, one that’s filled with 50 pounds of Hershey’s candy. So, a child won that yesterday, but that’s the incentive for them to bring in baked goods.”


Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004. Among the awards Baugh has won include the 2003 Raleigh Burroughs Award as the turf writer making the most impact on the Florida Thoroughbred Industry.