Ripley festival made for chocolate lovers

RIPLEY, W.Va – Tables and tables of chocolate treats will fill McCoy’s Conference Center during the sixth annual West Virginia Chocolate Festival on Saturday.

McCoy’s Conference Center is immediately off Interstate 77, exit 138, at Ripley. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Following the festival, a Chocolate Jazz Concert featuring trumpet player David Wells of Vienna will follow in McCoy’s Conference Center at about 7:30 p.m.

A chocolate buffet will take place before the smooth jazz concert.

Admission to the festival and parking are free. A parade from the downtown Ripley municipal parking lot will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday and continue to McCoy’s Conference Center.

The chocolate festival will have drawings, free samples, entertainment, children’s games and every form of chocolate imaginable, said Sheree Knotts, festival director and creator. About 20 vendors from the area and state will offer various chocolate items for sale.

Knotts said the family event is a showcase for West Virginia chocolatiers.

Wells said his band will be performing at the concert and playing some songs from his new CD, “No Side Effects,” that he collaborated on with keyboardist Chris Geith.

Wells said the new CD – his 13th – combines funky grooves, catchy melodies and sophisticated chord progressions for a collection of tunes that feature the flugelhorn and acoustic piano as lead instruments.

“Ninety percent of the music is upbeat and it will get your foot tapping,” Wells said, adding the CD includes a classical piece, “Adagio in G minor,” which Wells said he enjoyed playing.

The CD’s first single, “Never Giving Up,” has been climbing the jazz charts nationwide. Wells is the CEO/founder of Chocolate Jazz Foundation.

Geith wrote the songs, produced and engineered the CD project, Wells said.

“(Geith) is a phenomenal musician,” Wells said, adding Geith’s songs gave him the inspiration for putting together another CD.