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'Profitable' turnout for Chocolate Festival

by Lindsey Wells | February 7, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.

More than 700 people gathered in the name of chocolate on Super Bowl Sunday for the 14th annual Chocolate Festival at Embassy Suites Hot Springs -- Hotel & Spa, according to Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic.

The annual festival, which benefits CCMC, and the big game go hand in hand in the Spa City, CCMC's executive director and festival coordinator, Lynn Blankenship, said Tuesday.

She said the theory was put to the test one year to determine whether the Super Bowl affected festival attendance, and the results were unexpected.

"We scheduled it on a different Sunday -- it was the Sunday before Super Bowl Sunday -- and that was our worst-attended year. I think it's just because we've done it for so long and people associate now the Chocolate Festival with Super Bowl Sunday. It's easier to remember. The year that we took it off of Super Bowl Sunday we saw half as many people as we saw last weekend," she said.

This year's attendance was average with approximately 735 people and about $41,000 raised in total, she said, adding that it turned out to be a "very profitable event."

Sixteen vendors vied for the chance to place first, second or third in one of the three categories. Judges were Brad Hudgens, Chris Franklin, Sissi Bennett, Betty Formby and Ellen McCabe.

The winners are as follows:

• Best of Show -- Malvern National Bank took first place, Fat Bottomed Girls took second, and Pour Some Sugar on Me Sweet Shoppe third.

• Best Taste -- National Park College Hospitality & Tourism took first, CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs took second, and Angels in the Park third.

• People's Choice -- Dolce Gelato took first, National Park College took second, and Malvern National Bank third.

In addition to bragging rights, each of the winners were awarded a plaque.

"If you go into Dolce Gelato, for instance, they have won the People's Choice award several years and you'll see on their wall about five or six plaques hanging up there," Blankenship said.

Red Light Roastery was on site serving coffee.

Over 100 items were featured at the silent and live auctions, including gift certificates, gift baskets, luxury items, hotel stays, boat rentals, paintings and photographs, jewelry, spa services, and entertainment packages.

Blankenship said the hotel packages are usually among the most popular silent auction items.

"Embassy Suites is such a great partner; they reach out to all of their corporate companies and they ask them to donate weekend and overnight stays," she said. "There are usually about 15-20 of them, and people will come just to see what's on auction and then typically they can get something under market value."

Local on 02/07/2018

Print Headline: 'Profitable' turnout for Chocolate Festival

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