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Eyeing the sweet stuff

Chocolate festival helps fund library, youth programs

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ARLEE – Homemade chocolate desserts don’t come much gooier or sweeter than those served last Thursday evening at the Arlee Brown Building during the Arlee Community Development Corporation’s 16th annual Chocolate Lover’s Festival fundraiser. 

“What could be better than eating chocolate and raising money,” said this year’s event coordinator Casey Barrows.

About 60 community members turned out for a hot bowl of chili and an opportunity to indulge in an array of melt-in-your mouth chocolate delicacies, all made by hand by some of the best bakers in the Jocko Valley.

Twenty-five drool-inducing chocolate creations filled tables as participants lined up to sample bite-size pieces of each treat and choose their favorite with the option of bidding on an identical item during the auction. 

“This is a good cookie,” said Derek Kloberdanz as he took another bite of a large cookie from his plate of chocolate goodies. Kloberdanz explained that his family, who recently moved back to the Arlee area, thought the chocolate festival would be a fun family event and a great opportunity to come out and support the town. 

Attendees voted for their favorite decadent delights in six categories: presentation, candy, cookie, cake/brownie, kid-made dessert and overall best dessert winner. Both the Best Overall Dessert and Best Candy honors went to Amanda Corcoran for her strawberry cheesecake. 

Denise and Chelsea Espinoza took the Most Beautiful Presentation prize with their chocolate covered pretzel sticks. Sandra Paris won the Best Cake/Brownie category with a double-chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.

Rageen Lucy Newman and her chocolate-dipped peanut butter cookies collected Best Cookie honors. Eirin Moore whipped up Best Kid-Made Dessert honors with his triple-chocolate mud pie.

The Chocolate Lover’s Festival is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Arlee CDC, and the funds raised help support projects in the community as well as summer youth programs provided by the Jocko Valley Library.

“The Chocolate Lover’s Festival was a big success this year,” said Barrows. “We had a packed house for the auction, sold out our chili dinner and we were overwhelmed with contributions. A big thanks to the dessert contributors, volunteers and generous bidders.”

Local merchants and community members donated many of the silent auction items.

“We raised around $2,000, which will be split between the Jocko Valley Library and the Arlee CDC,” Barrows explained. “Funds will be used for the library’s summer reading program and Dolly Parton Imagination Library, along with other youth programming in the Jocko Valley.”


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