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Chocolate festival supports nonprofit Christian ministry

by Elisha Morrison | January 28, 2016 at 4:00 a.m.

Chocolate lovers will have the opportunity to eat their fill of the sweet treat for charity Sunday at the 12th annual Chocolate Festival.

The festival will be held from 1-3 p.m. at Embassy Suites Hot Springs -- Hotel & Spa to benefit Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic, a nonprofit Christian ministry that strives to improve the quality of life of the needy in the Hot Springs area, according to the ministry's website. CCMC provides medical care, dental and vision services and advocates for those in need.

Lynn Blankenship, executive director of CCMC, said the ministry is supported by private donations and fundraisers. The chocolate festival is CCMC's largest fundraiser, raising an average of $30,000 to $35,000 each year. Last year, 592 persons attended the festival. Blankenship said they are planning for 600 attendees this year.

According to Blankenship, Embassy Suites started the festival because their corporate offices encourage each Embassy location to take part in community outreach. CCMC was chosen as the Hot Springs beneficiary, and has worked closely with Embassy Suites to make the event a success each year, Blankenship said.

The emcee for this year's chocolate festival will be radio personality Zac Smith. Entertainment will include face painting and crafts for children by Sisters in Service, and Justin Time, a juggling, balloon artist. In addition, there will be a silent auction of items from retailers in and around Hot Springs. Vendors on site will be Dr. Bill Perkins, Kaumeyer Chiropractic Clinic and EVILO Oils and Vinegars.

The chocolatiers entered in the festival will compete for three awards -- People's Choice, Best Taste and Best Presentation. Dolce Gelato, who was last year's People Choice winner, Fat Bottomed Girl's Cupcake Shoppe, who won the 2014 Best Taste award, and the Best Presentation winner, The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa, are scheduled to take part in this year's festival.

The chocolatiers who will try to unseat the reigning champions are Bliss Cupcake Cafe, Bleu Monkey Grill, Jenny Lively with Kollective Coffee & Tea, Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery, Bistro 400 at Embassy Suites, Silks Bar and Grill at Oaklawn, Magic Springs Water and Theme Park, Arkansas Career Training Institute and culinary classes at National Park College.

Blankenship said CCMC is "grateful for the support" of their sponsors, Levi Hospital, Jane Howard Foundation, Irvin and Evea Bainum Foundation, CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs, Richard Goodman Family, National Park Medical Center, Red Oak Ridge, Red Sunflower Boutique, Riser Ford/Lincoln/Nissan, Xerox Corp., KYEA-YAC International, Allen Tillery Auto, Alliance Rubber, Bank of the Ozarks, Harps Food Stores, Genesis Cancer Center, Relyance Bank, Simmons Bank, Weyerhaeuser, Window Mart, Buddy and Betty Formby, All-Star Awards, Embassy Suites, Goslee Printing, Quality Plus Printing and Graphics, Seiz Sign Co. and The Sentinel-Record.

Tickets for the festival are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Children under five years old will be free with a paid adult admission. VIP tickets are $50 and include valet service and will be served in the VIP lounge with access to the silent auction. Tickets can be purchased from the Embassy Suites or the Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic. They can be purchased on the CCMC website at http://www.ccmchs.org.

Local on 01/28/2016

Print Headline: Chocolate festival supports nonprofit Christian ministry

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