From KENDAL GRONER
Despite current COVID-19 restrictions, the Jonesborough Area Merchants & Service Association has carefully planned a way to carry on the now sixth-year tradition of Chocolate Fest in Downtown Jonesborough this weekend.
The event offers attendees the opportunity to indulge in gourmet chocolates while also supporting the small business community of downtown.
“We were really hoping we could have Chocolate Fest this year, and it was a big decision,” said Melinda Copp, JAMSA Vice President and event coordinator. “We wanted to make sure we could do it safely, and I think we have found a way to do it safely. We’re just glad to be able to bring people downtown and still support the small businesses.”
All of the funds raised from any event held by JAMSA are funneled back to merchants and advertising efforts in downtown. Both JAMSA and the Town of Jonesborough donated money to a small business recovery fund for this year.
“The biggest change we made this year is spreading it out to a three-day event, instead of a one-day event,” Copp said. “There will actually be four different time blocks that you buy your tickets for over the three days. That will really help us limit the number of people that are at the event at each time.”
Attendees will have the opportunity to visit over 25 participating businesses on Feb. 12 from 5 to 8 p.m., Feb. 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m., and Feb. 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets will be sold in packs of 10 for $15, with each ticket equaling a chocolate from a business.
Those looking to attend Chocolate Fest are encouraged to buy their tickets online for the individual time block preferred and the tickets will be available for pickup at the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center prior to the event.
“We really encourage you to get your tickets early so there aren’t a lot of people at the visitor’s center at once,” Copp added.
In years past, all chocolates have been prepared by the individual businesses, but to add another level of safety, Copp said, they are requiring all chocolates be made in a commercial kitchen.
The chocolate shop Downtown Sweet has offered to make a lot of the treats for other businesses, and there will be some pre-packaged chocolates from Chocolatiers. Attendees will visit inside of most businesses, but some will have tents setup outside to present their chocolates.
“Some stores obviously have capacity restrictions,” Copp said. “You may have to wait. We just ask that you be patient if a store is at capacity. Each store will have different regulations.”
The project “Spread the Love,” organized by Main Street Jonesborough, will also be coinciding with Chocolate Fest. Paper hearts can be purchased, and the buyer can write any words of kindness they like before the heart is displayed in the windows of businesses downtown.
Spread the Love will continue through the end of February and is intended to help foster a lively and inviting atmosphere for people when they stroll through downtown.
“This year it seemed fitting to let the stores pick a non-profit, and then people can donate to Spread the Love and share worlds of kindness,” Copp said. “It seemed like a fun way to brighten up the town and actually spread the love. We have so many local nonprofits, and it’s been neat to see people pick different ones.”
For those interested in learning more about Chocolate Fest or the Spread the Love project, visit JBOchocolatefest.com, or call the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center at (423) 753-1010
All tickets will include an event program and map of downtown, and any available parking downtown is permissible for event attendees to park in.