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Treat yourself to the annual Chocolate Fantasia and savor Silver City’s other delights

Imagine if you will a wide selection of homemade chocolate delicacies just waiting for the chocoholic to come and sample.

It is a mouth-wateringly scrumptious image.

But it’s no dream, it’s reality at Silver City’s annual Chocolate Fantasia (chocolatefantasia.org) on Saturday .

“We have a good variety of chocolate,” said Maureen Craig, president of the Mimbres Region Arts Council board of directors and an organizer of the event. “There are always some chocolatiers that go the extra mile and be inventive or do an incredible truffle.”

The event has been a fundraiser for the council for almost 20 years, helping fund several youth outreach programs, such as the Youth Mural Program and Arte Para Todos.

It has expanded out of its rather rigid chocolate beginnings.

“If they don’t want to make a candy per se, they can make a cookie and dip it in chocolate,” Craig said. “So it may not be exactly candy, but it is delicious and it is chocolate. It just has to be bite-sized. And a few years ago, we created a maverick category for them. We’re pushing the boundaries for the chocolate purists.”

The Boston Hill Open Space System is a series of trails offering a rugged climb to help burn off some calories from Chocolate Fantasia. (SOURCE: Silver City Parks and Recreation Department)

Each year, the event is centered on a theme to help make the festivities fun, she said, and this year it is all about “Travel Through Time.”

“It means the stores can choose a time period in history, a decade or any time period, or go into the future and do something imaginary,” Craig said. “They can base it on ‘Star Trek’ or whatever. They can imagine the future or play a scene from the past. Last year’s theme was ‘Wild West,’ and everybody was in jeans and cowboy hats. It was a lot of fun.”

The tasting trays are set up in about 30 participating businesses in Silver City’s historic downtown, which makes for an afternoon of browsing and snacking.

The chocolate delicacies and themed decorations and apparel are a big part of the fun of Chocolate Fantasia.

“It fills me with joy to see so many people visiting Silver for the events,” she said. “It’s just really exciting to get these crowds. People really seem to enjoy Chocolate Fantasia.”

The volunteer chocolatiers have a wide range of kitchens at their disposal, and that’s part of the challenge.

“About half of the chocolates are made out of businesses that have commercial kitchens available to them, and the others are made by volunteers, who make the chocolates in our homes,” Craig said. “We make hundreds of them. Each of us usually makes 300 of them.”

Taste-testers present awards for the top treats, but the public also gets to choose its favorites.

“A few years ago, we added a people’s choice for best chocolate and best decorations,” Craig said. “On the back of tasting card is a ballot, and you turn it in by a certain time of the day. People love the people’s choice. And many of the stores and people really love to decorate and get in costume and get into their themes.

The variety of chocolates ranges from truffles to chocolate-dipped cookies. (SOURCE: Mimbres Region Arts Council)

This may be the last year for the home chocolatiers, because the state is changing up its regulations regarding permits for home-cooking events, she said. But regardless, the Chocolate Fantasia will remain in some form.

With so much chocolate on the menu, there’s nothing like burning off some of those calories with a stroll along some of the nearby paths within the Boston Hill Open Space system.

A town with a name like Silver City obviously owes its heritage to its mining heyday, and many of the trails on Boston Hill wind past places like Adonis Pits, Luck Separation Mill and King Bolt Pit.

Topping out at 6,380 feet, Boston Hill provides a 360-degree aerial view of the surroundings. And the steep ravines and twisting trails are shared by mule deer and javelina, and even occasionally the raccoon-related coatimundi and foxes.

Four trailheads are at the edge of town, crisscrossing their way up the summit, with many secluded and remote sites within a short hike from town.

Look for a historic narrow-gauge railroad bed that crosses the trail area along much of its southern third near the Market Street trailhead and exiting it near the Cooper Street trailhead after a winding course of about two miles.

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