Sophia Del-Bosque, 1, makes a valentine Sunday for her father, as her mother, Tricia Cormier, helps during the Central Maine Chocolate Festival at the Fairfield Community Center at 61 Water St. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

FAIRFIELD — Kelly Pressey of Winslow could not pass by the Oakland Delights table Sunday at the Central Maine Chocolate Festival without buying some treats.

“I bought brownies, chocolate covered strawberries and whoopie pies,” she said. “Everything looks really delicious and creamy. I bought it for my grandchildren — if it makes it to them.”

Pressey said she has been attending the chocolate festival at the Fairfield Community Center at 61 Water St. for years, since she was a Fairfield resident.

Melanie Winegardner, left, and her husband, Jonas Sleeper, of Smithfield shop Sunday with their children Ridley, 9 months, bottom, and Owen, 2, during the Central Maine Chocolate Festival at the Fairfield Community Center at 61 Water St. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“I like the variety,” she said. “I like the candy they make. Everything is so creative.”

The festival, hosted by the Central Maine Fourth of July Celebration and held three days before Valentine’s Day, was a flurry of activity by midmorning Sunday. Visitors were perusing the tables of fudge, chocolates, baked goods, cotton candy and crafts, including wooden floral arrangements and hand-sewn aprons, dish towels, hot pads and oven mitts. Vendors also offered jewelry, wooden cutting boards, toys, stuffed animals and even chocolate-scented soap. Children were also making crafts.

Oakland Delights owner Cher Panther was selling her homemade cupcakes, pies, whoopie pies, pepperoni bread, banana bread and chocolates.


“This is my first time at the festival,” Panther, 50, said. “I think it’s great. I like how it’s small. It’s not overwhelmed with tons of vendors, and it’s been a steady flow of people since it opened.”

Panther’s son, Chris Panther, 29, was helping his mother, who said she has been selling her baked goods and candy at craft fairs and by private order for seven or eight months.

“Every time I go to a craft fair,” she said, “I pretty much sell out.”

Cher Panther, who also has a cleaning business, Sparkle Plus, said she sold her goods last fall at a two-day event at the Augusta Civic Center, and she sold everything on the first day. She went home and stayed up until 4 a.m. the next day to have items to sell for the final day. The mother of seven children, ages 21 to 31, she has been baking all her life.

“I love to cook,” she said.

The festival was held for a good cause, according to vendor Jean McCaslin of Winslow, who was selling a variety of items, including wine and champagne glasses, tumblers, coasters, canvases, signs and jewelry that she had enhanced with her own artistry.


“I use acrylic paint and mix it with a medium and pour it onto something and manipulate the paint,” McCaslin said, adding that one can then use a blow dryer or balloon to spread it.

She started her hobby about 18 months ago when her mother-in-law was dying at 98 and McCaslin was spending a lot of time with her. When her mother-in-law died, McCaslin needed something to fill the void, she said.

“My husband went off moose hunting,” she said, “and I took over the garage.”

Christina Leeman, left, of Embden and Darla Farrell of Madison work at their booth Sunday during the Central Maine Chocolate Festival at the Fairfield Community Center at 61 Water St. The two are selling wire wrapped jewelry and handmade epoxy items. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

McCaslin also owns a Nascar store in Winslow, where she sells many items, including knickknacks and racing collectibles.

While she had not sold a lot of merchandise by late morning Sunday, McCaslin said she was enjoying her first time selling at the festival.

“I think this festival has a long standing in the community for everything they’re doing to raise money to benefit the Clinton Fourth of July,” she said. “I think it’s a good fundraiser to keep the community spirit alive, which is something you don’t see often these days.”

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