By ALLEN RAU
Anyone in downtown Jonesborough on Saturday, Feb. 10, between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. should be prepared to be surrounded by over 20,000 pieces of chocolate.
More than 30 downtown merchants are participating in the third installment of Chocolate Fest, an event held downtown and sponsored by the Jonesborough Area Merchants and Services Association. Jeff Gurley, owner of The Lollipop Shop and a member of JAMSA, said, “If you do something that’s different and fun, people will come.”
There will be a “chocolate stop” at each participating merchant and a variety of locally created goodies such as chocolate-covered blueberries and strawberries or dark, rich fudge. “It’s not like they’re coming in here and getting a Hershey bar,” Gurley said.
In addition to a nearly endless selection of chocolate treats, according to Gurley, there will be a s’mores station at the courthouse along with a chocolate eating contest.
The previous two Chocolate Fests have sold out . More than 1,600 people came to the first event and 2,700 attended the second. Gurley expects between 3,000 and 3,300 people to attend this year and each participant will have the opportunity to sample locally created goodies.
The event was started as a way to bring downtown Jonesborough a lift during the middle of winter. “It’s never easy in the winter months,” Gurley said, “It felt like the middle of winter would be a great time to have a new event, and it only seemed natural to have a chocolate event right around the weekend of Valentine’s weekend.”
According to Gurley, Chocolate Fest is the largest fund-raiser of the year for JAMSA. “We do make a contribution once the festival is over to an area non-profit,” he said. The proceeds also “help finance our Christmas activities in town.”
“It’s really brought awareness about a lot of the businesses downtown,” Main Street director Melinda Copp said, “It’s really made an impact on getting people inside the businesses and allowing them to see what they offer.”
Tickets are available in batches of 10 or 15. Each ticket will get one treat, whether it’s chocolate covered blueberries or chocolate bark. The price for 10 tickets is $11.50 and 15 will cost $16.50.
Chocolate Fest again will be held Saturday, Feb. 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone number for information is 423-753-1010. Tickets are available now at the town of Jonesborough’s website while a limited number of tickets will be available at the International Storytelling Center on the day of the event at 10 a.m.