Coco for chocolate fest

Coco+for+chocolate+fest

Jessica Parsons

We all know “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts.” That means your best friend, while you study for those last projects before spring break, is chocolate.

The Superior Alliance for Independent Living (SAIL) is hosting a fundraiser for the One in Five Campaign, their 10th annual Chocolate Festival. Starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, this sweet event is meant to benefit SAIL programs across the U.P., featuring local restaurants, bakeries and others, like “chocolatiers” donating samples and new tastes for the community to try. The event will be held at NMU’s University Center.

To SAIL Executive Director Sarah Peurakoski, the chocolate festival is about community awareness and meant to engage the community in a social setting to support one another.

“The chocolate is an avenue to get people out and be social with each other, and that is our intention,” Peurakoski said. “The money raised for the programs helps people explore new things, eliminate barriers, keep people active in the community and allow them to be a part of the community versus always staying at home.”

The original focus of this event was for a health and recreation program, ironically, but has recently expanded to cover more benefitting programs, such as supporting veterans, assistive technology as well as a sled hockey program, Peurakoski said. Attendees will receive a punch card to try samples from this year’s 12 featured chocolatiers: Borealis Baking Co., Café Bodega, Sayklly’s The Candy Store, Dulce Nulla Gourmet Desserts, 387 Restaurant, Contrast Coffee, Sweet Lou’s MQT, NMU’s Simply Superior Club, Towner’s Pastry & Chocolate Shoppe, Jilbert Dairy, the Marquette Food Co-op and Donckers.

The idea is to have these chocolatiers bring something to highlight from their business or bring a special treat for the community to sample, Peurakoski said, adding that the event is for a good cause and chocolatiers are excited to have 500 people come walk by their table. Voted and decided by the attendees and taste testers, the businesses will be competing with others as to who has the best customer service, who is the best dressed and who has the best dessert, Peurakoski said. Additionally, there will be a chance for attendees to participate in a raffle drawing to win a gift basket that includes chocolates, desserts and gift cards to nearby shops.

“In my mind, it’s really about the community, helping our businesses get more business while they’re helping us get people into the community,” Peurakoski said. “It’s a win-win for all of us.”

Tickets, bought in advance only, are $15 per person, and free for those 5 years of age and under. For more information, visit the event page on Facebook or call SAIL at 906-228-5744.