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Celebration of everything chocolate on Saturday
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The sweetest ticket this Saturday is to the grand tasting tent at the first annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Jubilee on Saturday, March 19, at their Lathrop outlet and ice cream shop.
While the actual event is free, tickets to the grand tasting tent have become brisk sellers online through
They aren’t quite as impossible to secure as a golden ticket to the mythical Wonka Chocolate Factory — yet that is.
“They have been selling well,” noted Carla Tibbets, the assistant marketing manager for the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company’s Restaurant and Retail Division based in San Leandro. “We are encouraging  people to buy online to make sure they can get tickets.”
Buying tickets in advance also saves money.
While the actual jubilee that features entertainment, music provided by local schools, a children’s play area and other activities is free, access to the grand tasting tent is $20 for 15 tastings. There are also family tickets for four costing $45. Tickets the day of the event are $25 for individuals and $50 for families.
Twenty vendors in the tent — including restaurants and bakeries in addition to Ghirardelli  — will offer everything from premium chocolate squares and doughnuts to desserts.
The other vendors include Nothing Bundt Cakes, Bon Mange, Cake Couture by Mel, Anna’s Irresistibles, Dunkin Donuts, Fab Delights, CR Fudge Co., DeBrito Chocolate Factory, Busen Bites, The Olive Oil Pantry, Spirit Cakes, Way to Life, Sconza Candy Company, The Rustic Puff and more
 There will also be chocolatier demonstrations highlighting handcrafted Ghirardelli Chocolate.
 The children’s area features free carnival-style  games. Each player receives a consolidation chocolate prize for playing while a grand chocolate prize will be presented to those that win the various games.
There are also free jumper playhouses.
The entertainment schedule starts at noon with the Ghirardelli Chocolate School presided over by Chocolate Professor Dave Stuart. He will take audience members through the chocolate making process from cocoa bean to chocolate bar.
One of the highlights is the 2:45 p.m. Ghirardelli Hot Fudge Sundae eating contest. Six people will be selected randomly from  the crowd to eat the sundaes without their hands as fast as they can.
Other entertainment includes:
u12:35 p.m.:  Dreamna — a current member of the Boys & Girls Club of Manteca/Lathrop — is a dynamic singer/songwriter whose repertoire includes old-time rock and roll to current hots.
u1:35 p.m.: The Boys & Girls Club dance team consisting of Trayana Davis, Elianna Jasso, Haley Camara, Faith Murphy, and Lilia Castillo will perform a routine taught to them by their teacher Taylor Loudermilk.
u1:45: The Boys & Girls Club martial arts program demonstration.
u3:30 p.m.: The Apartments — a garage rock  band — will play original music as well as covers of well-known hits.
u4:45 p.m.: Lathrop schools seventh through 12th grade choral and band programs will perform.
The outlet store will be open with additional items than they usually stock available in an overflow tent.
“It’s an ideal time to do all of your Easter candy shopping,” Tibbets said.
Easter bunny aficionados also will have a chance to buy solid and hollow versions made for the first time ever with Ghirardelli chocolate.  The new bunny has been dubbed “Noe.”
“As an added bonus besides having a sweet time you can help support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manteca-Lathrop,” Tibbets said.
Part of the proceeds goes to the organization that provides services to 1,800 youth at two locations in Manteca and Lathrop.
While parking is free, Tibbets is urging those that can to carpool.
The jubilee takes place  Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Ghirardelli distribution center off of Harlan Road along Interstate 5 in Lathrop.
Ghirardelli’s history is intertwined with the Gold Rush.
In 1849, during the California Gold Rush, Italian-born Domingo Ghirardelli moved to America and opened a store in a mining camp. After discovering the miners were starved for luxuries and needed something to spend their gold dust on, he starting stocking chocolate delicacies. In 1852, the enterprising immigrant founded a confectionery shop in San Francisco, which eventually became the modern-day Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.
Today, Ghirardelli is America’s oldest continuously operating chocolate maker. Their products are sold in stores everywhere and online. They also have their own chocolate and ice cream shops across the country.