by Marian Draganov
SOFIA, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Grand Chocolate Festival kicked off in Sofia on Saturday for the third consecutive year with the participation of more than 70 manufacturers and importers home and abroad.
During the two-day event at the Inter Expo Center, chocolates produced around the world are available for the estimated thousands of visiters.
Besides the common bars, chocolates appeared before visiters in various forms, including candies, cakes, cookies, liquor and even cosmetics.
They are even made into sushi together with strawberry and coconut, jewelry, paintings and a huge chocolate heart weighing 40 kg.
Nikolay, a visitor carrying a toddler on his shoulders, both eating chocolate ice cream, told Xinhua that they came from Pleven, some 170 km northeast of Sofia, especially for this festival.
"I guess we will try many more things but we started from here because my son loves ice cream and chocolate," he said.
Nikolay said chocolate is not something rare in Pleven, the seventh largest city in Bulgaria, but he comes to this festival to enjoy a great variety in one place.
Ani Dimitrova, the event organizer, told Xinhua that Bulgaria has seen an upward trend of chocolate business.
This can be reflected by the increasing scale of the festival, which is bigger this year compared with the previous two in terms of the number of exhibitors and the exhibition area.
"Generally speaking, I think that the culture of high-quality chocolate is gaining ground in Bulgaria, and this business is increasingly developing," Dimitrova said.
Radi Stambolov, exhibitor and co-owner of several companies, added that more and more Bulgarian consumers want to try new tastes.
"There are more thriving businesses that pay better wages, and people want to indulge themselves and eat high-quality chocolate," Stambolov said.