Wildwood has a gorgeous new events venue ready for business just in time for the summer season. Byrne Plaza, on the corner of Pacific and Oak avenues, has been shined up by the Wildwood Business Improvement District, who revamped the scruffy patch of grass into an event space with all the bells and whistles.

The first to inhabit the space is the Wild Chocolate and Wine Fest, taking place noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 24 and 25.

“It came out beautifully,” says Elizabeth Hargett, managing partner of Stallion Marketing, the company putting on the Chocolate and Wine Fest. “It’s a fabulous space for crafters and vendors. They (the Wildwood Business Improvement District) really thought about all of the nooks and crannies of the space … It has beautiful lighting to do events in the evenings, a full stage for entertainment. It has the beach balls to keep with the Wildwood theme (seen on the Wildwood sign near the beach). It’s a top-notch facility.”

For someone like Hargett, who is always on the look out for new places to host events, Byrne Plaza is a great addition to the local entertainment scene. The aforementioned lighting, stage and other amenities make it ripe for food truck festivals, music series, casual gatherings and, of course, a wine and chocolate festival.

“Some people don’t immediately think of wine and chocolate together, but a chocolate with a Cabernet is out of this world amazing,” Hargett laughs.

New Jersey wineries like Laurita Winery, DiMatteo Vineyards and Valenzano Family Winery will be represented. Among the chocolate companies there will be 1892 Cacao Arriba Ecuador, an Equadorian brand that offers small-batch products to maximize flavor. But, according to Hargett, the festival will feature more than just wine and chocolate in the traditional sense. Chocolate soaps, Cabernet sugar scrubs, cannolis dipped in chocolate, cigars made with notes of chocolate and more will be at the fest.

“If you can think to put chocolate in it, it’ll be there,” Hargett says.

Wine tastings will be available for those over 21 while supplies last, but the Wild Chocolate and Wine Fest is by no means an adults-only event.

“It’s not just for wine enthusiasts. It’s a laid back family friendly event,” Hargett says. “Parents can come in with kids, play lawn games, try some wine and take a bottle home.”

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