Chocolate Festival raises $30K

It was a feast for chocolate lovers and a benefit for the United Way of Southern Chester County. More than 1,000 people packed into Unionville High School Sunday for the eighth annual Chocolate Lovers Festival.

"It takes a big village," said Carrie Freeman, the chief executive officer of the United Way of Southern Chester County. This year's event brought together 33 judges, 82 volunteers and 250 chocolate entries.

"My email address has chocolate in it," said first-time judge Janice Prata. "This is heaven for me."

"My favorite is chocolate for breakfast and then a nap afterward," said eight-time judge Drew Yetter.

Judges rate the creativity of the amateur cake entries.

A team of judges evaluated the entries on flavor, overall appearance, moisture and texture, creativity and use of chocolate. The tables overflowed with an extensive selection of cakes, cupcakes, cookies, candy and brownies.

After the judges completed their tastings, the team of gloved cutters led by Christien Bass and Catherine Britt went to work slicing cakes, brownies and cupcakes into bite-size pieces while the guests gathered at the door.

At noon, the professional, amateur and student winners in each category were posted and the doors opened to allow the VIP guests to begin tasting. Many attendees came with strategies. Some headed directly to the back of the room, where the finest entries were located. Others perused the laden tables' vast array of chocolate to plan their strategy before redeeming their ten tasting tickets.

"The most important thing is that the ticket holders have a wide array of chocolate to choose from," said Freeman as the table selections were replenished before the doors opened for general admission. "The bakers who share their talents with the community are the reason this fundraiser is so successful."

Kelly Barboni displays her winning ribbons

Kelly Barboni took the professional win in three categories: brownie, candy and cookies. Samantha Dill of Dilly Dally Cakery took the top spot for cakes and cupcakes. Amateur brownies when to Betty Hist, the cake winner was Rebecca Bakey. Lindsay Culp was the candy winner and Patti Beauchesne took the win for chocolates, with Marie Schneider scoring top honors for cupcakes. The student wins featured Hazel Smith for brownies, Miranda Rowles for cakes and Kara Mudrick for candy. Liz Bram took the win for cookies and the team of Kendall Rybarczyk and Sidney Brutscher won for their cupcakes.

While the event winners covet their bragging rights for the year, the real winner is the community.

"The money will go immediately to fund area agencies for programs that support crisis intervention, health, family stability and independence through education," said Freeman.

The United Way also sold raffle tickets for a chance to win a year of chocolate desserts from local bakers like The Gables at Chadds Ford, Talula's Table and the Country Butchers. Tickets can be purchased online at unitedwayscc.org/tickets before the Feb. 14 drawing.

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About Karen Myers

Karen Myers lives in Pocopson Township and has written for several local publications. A strong supporter of our community, Karen has served on several non-profit boards, such as Pocopson Elementary PTO, The United Way of Southern Chester County, Chester County Art Association and Tick Tock Early Learning Center. She received her M.B.A. from the University of Delaware and worked in marketing and operations with a focus on banking.

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