Bel Air's first heart sculptures to be unveiled as part of popular Chocolate Festival

Jonathan West of Bel Air painted this fiberglass heart sculpture for the "Hearts of Harford" public art project sponsored by the Bel Air Downtown Alliance
Jonathan West of Bel Air painted this fiberglass heart sculpture for the "Hearts of Harford" public art project sponsored by the Bel Air Downtown Alliance (Courtesy of Jonathan West, Homestead Publishing)

As a prelude to its popular Chocolate & Candy Festival next month, the Bel Air Downtown Alliance is planning a special movie night later this month, along with a new Chocolate & Art Walk.

This year's Chocolate & Candy Festival, a rite of spring in Bel Air, will also feature the unveiling of the first "Hearts of Harford" sculptures, a new public arts project launched last year by the town government and the alliance.


The first two events will be held Friday, Feb. 22, when the alliance hosts its second Chocolate & Candy Festival Movie Night at the armory, showing "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss. Doors open at 6 p.m. and admission is free, along with free popcorn and free treats.

A new Chocolate & Art Walk, also on Feb. 22, will feature more than a dozen downtown Bel Air shops, boutiques and salons staying open late and hosting local artists in their businesses to display and sell their artwork. In addition, each business participating will feature samples of sweet treats from local restaurants and a few of the Chocolate & Candy Festival vendors. The shops, boutiques and salons will be open until 8 p.m.

The 12th annual Chocolate & Candy Festival March 2 at the armory runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $5.

Each paying visitor receives four sample tickets allowing them to sample from the chocolatiers, candy-makers and sweet treat merchants. Children younger than 6 will be admitted free and receive two free sample tickets. Additional sample tickets may be purchased at $3 for three tickets.

Moore's Candies, Wockenfuss Candies, Bel Air Bakery, Stephanie's Sweets, Bel Air Kettle Corn, Dove Chocolate Discoveries, Sweet Devotion Cupcakery, Mary Sue Candies, Tastefully Simple, Rita's Italian Ice in Forest Hill, Grandma Whitley's Creations, Jinji Chocolates, Coffee Coffee and La Cakerie are among vendors that will be in attendance at the festival with their delicious and decadent treats as samples and available for purchase.

The festival also will feature a children's craft and activity area, sponsored by the Bel Air Athletic Club and APGFCU. This year's crafts and activities will be themed to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday, also on March 2.

'Hearts' unveiling

The Bel Air Downtown Alliance, in cooperation with the Town of Bel Air, launched a public art project, entitled "Hearts Of Harford," in late 2012. The main purpose of the project is to enhance the public space in and around downtown Bel Air, provide visual appeal to the public landscape, establish downtown Bel Air as an art destination and honor Downtown Bel Air as the "Heart Of Harford," according to the alliance.

The design of the sculptures is based on the heart used in the logo of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, and the concept is similar to the fish and later crab sculptures that were put up temporarily around Baltimore's Inner Harbor and surrounding neighborhoods. The final design for the Hearts of Harford sculpture was created by Adrienne DeRan, a local artist and member of the town's Cultural Arts Commission.

"We have a lot of fun and exciting plans to help promote the project and we think the community will really enjoy seeing the hearts come to life," Scott Walker, executive director of the downtown alliance, said in a media release.

To date, five hearts have been commissioned by local business sponsors: Peoples Bank, Katzen Eye Group, WSMT Insurance, Gold Medal Physical Therapy and Rosedale Federal; three decorative designs from local artists have been approved.

The hearts being unveiled, starting at about 9 a.m. March 2, are sponsored by Peoples Bank and Katzen Eye Group.

The Peoples Bank Heart decoration was designed by students in the Honors Art Program at Bel Air High School and will be installed at the armory. The Katzen Eye Group heart decoration was designed by Jonathan West and will be installed at Rockfield Manor. The latter's theme is the annual Bel Air Kite Festival held at Rockfield.

Additional information about the Hearts Of Harford program can be found at


This event is made possible by the generosity and support of APGFCU, Bel Air Athletic Club, Harford Artists Gallery, Cat Sense Feline Hospital, Circa Ltd., Party Palace Rentals, Christman Family Chiropractic, Harford's Heart and Harford Bank.