By ALLEN RAU
While the mild winds may have kept the hot air balloon from soaring above the Jonesborough Library, they certainly didn’t keep much else away as Jonesborough welcomed its fourth annual Chocolate Fest.
Last Saturday’s Chocolate Fest 2019 event featured more tickets sold, more attendees waltzing up and down Main Street and more delectables — enough of everything to keep everybody happy.
“It was a huge success. We were up 30 percent over last year. That’s big. That brought a lot of people into town. We sold over 19,000 tickets,” said Dona Lewis with the Jonesborough Area Merchants and Service Association at Monday evening’s Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting.
Lewis continued. “We had 38merchants handing out candy, all the way up to the Pancake House and all the way over to the Chuckey Depot and everything in between. And I just want to say ‘thank you’ to everybody that helped.”
The JAMSA-sponsored event was held throughout downtown Jonesborough in various businesses, while some 11E-based businesses participated by setting up in the Historic Jonesborough Visitor’s Center.
In order to draw crowds towards the northern part of downtown, a hot air balloon was brought in to offer tethered rides for $10 per person in the library parking lot, provided the weather cooperated.
According to The Lollipop Shop owner Jeff Gurley, who led the “balloon effort”, the maximum allowable wind for the inflatable was six miles per hour.
However the winds were not in a cooperative frame of mind, said local downtown merchant and JAMSA member Melinda Copp.
“(The balloon) never actually got up because of the wind. It was right around seven miles per hour wind, so they stuck around to see if it might die down but no, they never got to fly the balloon, sadly.”
Although no one was able to float over the town, the amount of chocolates available may have kept any disappointment at bay, while also offering a chance to escape the winter doldrums and get out of the house.
“Who doesn’t love chocolate? And I think it’s so close to Valentine’s Day a lot of people do it as a day date or they’ll do it as a day date for the whole family,” Copp explained. “It’s far enough after Christmas that people are ready to get out and do something after kind of being inside for the winter. So I think it’s a good draw to get people downtown.”
Another new addition to Chocolate Fest this year was the contest for the best treat.
“We had where you could vote on your favorite chocolate on the guides we handed out. The people returned that to the Storytelling Center if they wanted to vote and the ‘Old Town Dairy Bar’ actually won. They had a hot fudge cake and it won. You can’t go wrong with hot fudge cake,” Copp said.
While those with a sweet tooth had the opportunity to indulge last Saturday, Alderman Terry Countermine offered some advice to 2020 Chocolate Fest attendees at Monday’s BMA meeting, “You gotta follow that with an exercise Saturday.”