The has been sold to a group led by local franchise owner Clark Bevans, and will move to the Hyatt Regency Orange County in Garden Grove starting this year, the group announced.
"If you look back at the history of the Chocolate Festival and the growth over the past two years, to continue to grow the festival and deliver a product that the consumer want, it needed a new venue," Bevans said.
The festival, which was started in 2010 by Fountain Valley Living magazine publishers Curt and Lynn Seeden, was held at the Fountain Valley Recreation Center in 2010 and 2011. Bevans, who had previously been the festival's VIP sponsor, bought the Seeden's interest in the event, and will now be in charge of its operation and financial management along with Alex Accetta, the festival's original financial backer. The Seedens will stay on as consultants, Bevans said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"The Seedens will stay on to make keep the vision and the passion and to make sure we keep growing the little baby that they created," Bevans said.
Reports first that the festival could move out of Fountain Valley after Accetta announced as much to the Fountain Valley Community Foundation, the festival's main beneficiary. At least one source close to the festival said in March that the event's proceeds barely covered the $2,500 donation it committed to making to the Foundation, but Bevans insisted he's confident in his investment, and that part of the move to a different venue should be conducive to more financial success.
"The consumer wants to have their chocolate, drink their wine, have their beer in an environment that can reasonably host 2,000 people," he said. "So part of it was the size of the venue, but then you have your parking issues, the number of bathroom, electricity needs. And with how big I want to go, and my partner Alex wants to go, we need those other things as a suporting cast, if you will."