By ALLEN RAU
Over 2,300 people braved the elements and sampled the wide array of sweets at the third annual Chocolate Fest last Saturday, according to Jonesborough Area Merchants and Services Association board member Jeff Gurley.
While the forecast may have scared off some folks planning to buy tickets the day of the event, Gurley said more than 12,600 tickets were sold.
Jonesborough residents Gerry and Teresa Duffy, along with Richard, Allison and Skye Myers, were at their second Chocolate Fest. “My favorite (treat) was probably the one down at the (Visitor’s Center), the chocolate covered Oreo … and then the chocolate covered strawberries,” Skye Myers said.
Those weren’t the only delectables available at the festival.
The event coordinator for Farm Fresh Grocery, Ashley Cavender, said, “People have been really happy to see the effort put into the different tastings that the merchants have offered … we tried to be a little bit diverse in what we made so people with gluten allergies were able to get the gluten-free cake or maybe people with nut allergies could do the shortbread cookie.”
Also available at the Farm Fresh Grocery was a Chocolate Caramel Walnut Bark with raspberry drizzle. “This is my third year of being a part of Chocolate Fest and each year they’ve gotten better,” Cavender said.
Although the weather forecast was grim, the attendees helped improve the financial forecasts for downtown businesses.
“(Chocolate Fest) is a good idea to bring people into the stores,” Richard Myers said.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Cavender said, “Our sales have been really good for the day. We did $1,500 … a good Saturday for us is $1,000,” she added, “Overall we consider it good exposure even if people didn’t come in and buy … it was a really successful day.”
Gurley, who also owns The Lollipop Shop, said, “I know I got 500 or 600 people in my store.”
According to Gurley, the Visitor’s Center on a normal Saturday and Sunday in February will receive 20 to 40 visitors. This past Saturday alone 685 people passed through its doors.
Along with eating chocolate all afternoon and helping local businesses, Gurley said that events such as Chocolate Fest instill a sense of community pride.
“At some point in time comes more community goodwill … you take pride in living where you live.”