Perhaps it's a cruel form of torture that possesses the Firehouse Art Center to hold its annual chocolate festival just as many of us are shedding those extra holiday pounds. Whatever their motivation, we love it. Every pound of it.

This year's festival is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. next Saturday, Feb. 4 at Norman North High School. If you're new to Norman, it's one of the year's culinary highlights. It's a monument to decadence and chocolate as an art, all rolled up into a weekend.

Food Network has rated the Chocolate Festival as fifth in its Top 10 Food Festivals. (We discovered it long before they did and usually rank it right up there with Bedlam Football as a Norman must see and do). There's usually some kind of wacky art spinoff to chocolate. We've heard of a downtown barber that will be shaving someone with a chocolate gel this year.

Tickets cost between $15 to $35, depending on the level of timing and taste and your age. A fundraiser gala Friday night will be at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. That includes silent and live auctions, music and, of course, lots of chocolate.

So we suggest you take a hiatus from the treadmill and celebrate chocolate. Life is too short to pass it by.

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