HERSHEY >> A new event will be unveiled on Saturday, Oct. 17, to celebrate the fall season in downtown Hershey.
Fittingly named Choctoberfest, the family-friendly event will feature live music, food, children's games and other activities outdoors in Chocolatetown Square, a park located at routes 422 and 743.
Choctoberfest will be held from noon to 6 p.m. and will follow the final Farmers Market on Chocolate of the season. The farmers market will be held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the west side of The Hershey Story museum, which is located across the street from Chocolatetown Square.
Both Choctoberfest and the farmers market are sponsored by the Downtown Hershey Association, which formed in 2013 to promote and revitalize the downtown area.
"It's a great way to get people out before it gets cold," Susan Cort, a volunteer with the DHA, said of Choctoberfest.
Food, beverages and retail items will be available to purchase. Area vendors that will be selling food and drinks include The Mill, Chocolate Avenue Grill, Houlihan's, Irv's Pub, Cullari Vineyards and Winery, Spring Gate Winery, Cassel Vineyards, and many of the regular farmers market vendors.
Troegs of Hershey will sell its popular craft beers at a biergarten.
Local businesses selling retail merchandise will be Knock Knock Boutique, MarketPlace and Simply J.
Children's games will be available for a nominal fee. St. Joan of Arc Church, The Hershey Story museum and First United Methodist Church will provide the children's games, activities and crafts.
Another big hit with families should be the Hershey's Kissmobile, which will be on site with free samples of Hershey's chocolate. The Hershey's product characters will be on hand from noon to 1 p.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m.
In the evening, at the conclusion of Choctoberfest, the public is invited across the street to the event tent, adjacent to the museum, for a free DJ dance party.
Pepsi Beverages Company and PA American Water are the corporate sponsors of Choctoberfest.
The DHA also announced it will sponsor a community tree-lighting event from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4, also in Chocolatetown Square. There will be a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus for the kids, and entertainment by a Milton Hershey School vocal group. Cookies and hot chocolate will be provided.
The DHA was created by a group of community members whose goal is to foster downtown revitalization in Hershey. Its board is made up of more than two dozen community leaders representing small and large businesses, local government, civic organizations and residents. According to its mission statement, the DHA "aims to enhance the beauty of downtown, attract new businesses and improve the quality of life for everyone with a walkable, bike-able, welcoming downtown that respects Hershey's heritage."
"Everything we've done this year is the first time we've done it, and it's been successful," Cort said of the 2-year-old DHA. "We're hoping Choctoberfest and the holiday celebration are well-received."