Friday, December 9, 2011

Candy Cane Festival

Yesterday didn't go as planned, but I was determined to have fun today at Hammond's Candy Factory's annual Candy Cane Festival.

Hammond's Candy Factory is a factory downtown that produces handmade candy--most famously, candy canes and ribbon candies. They've been featured on Oprah and The Today Show. They offer free tours daily, and I've heard good things about them, although I've never been there myself.

Well, a friend told me that this weekend (Friday and Saturday) is their annual Candy Cane Festival. There are supposed to be things like crafts and candy and visits from Santa, all for free! The candy tour would be running, too. I talked Andrew into going because I just knew Oliver would have a great time.

We got to Hammond's Candy Factory and were pleased to find a parking spot right up front. It was cold out (high 30s), and we didn't want to have Jo outside any longer than we had to. As we walked around the corner, we spotted dozens of tents, a real fire truck, and a bouncy castle--all outside. With all of the information on their Facebook page and website, I never read anything about the event being held outdoors. I felt terrible. I'd dragged Oliver here immediately after his nap, so he was super crabby in the car. Traffic downtown had been less than ideal, so it had taken us 45 minutes to make the drive. It looked like it was all for nothing.

We asked around and learned that the only indoor activity was the tour. So, we chose to do the tour, which sounded fun in itself. Once inside, I hung out in line with Baby Jo, and Andrew took Oliver to the potty. They returned five minutes later, visibly upset. An older man (not with the company) had pounded on the door and yelled at them for taking too long. Andrew skipped on washing Oliver's hands, which set off a tantrum, as Oliver hates it when his routine changes. I ended up having to take Oliver to the women's room to wash his hands, and Andrew lectured the man about having patience in a place full of kids.

Finally, the tour started. I couldn't see anything because I'm so short, but they had monitors set up to show videos of what was going on in the factory. Our tour guide told us we were just getting the short version of the tour. She also kept talking about how this was the first year they added a second day on to the festival. She complained about how she didn't like it, it made things disorganized, and she hoped they wouldn't do it again next year. Once she was done complaining, she sent us down the hall to watch people package the candy and to get a free sample. A person dressed as a mouse made an appearance, which delighted Oliver. We watched the candy packaging for a while and then collected our samples. We tried a butterscotch candy cane and some taffy. The candy cane was the most beautiful candy cane I'd ever seen, and the taffy was delicious and chewy.

Our tour ended in the gift shop, of course! We browsed the merchandise, thinking of people on our Christmas list. As beautiful as the candies were, though, we couldn't rationalize spending over $3.50 on a candy cane. A customer at the chocolate counter started yelling about the outrageous prices of truffles (about $23/pound). We can't afford that, either, but I wanted to remind her that she just did a free tour at a free festival, and it's probably in bad taste to yell at a cashier who doesn't have any authority over the pricing of the candies. I held my tongue.

And, so, we left the festival. It really did look like it would have been a lot of fun if it had been warmer. We left disappointed, and I felt a bit guilty. Two days in a row, I'd dragged the family out in the cold for a disappointing trip. We made the long drive home in silence. Just kidding--we made the long drive home listening to a two-year-old's tantrum. He was mad because he tore his tour hat up which, shockingly, left him with a torn, unwearable hat.

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