Crowd with sweet tooth packs clinic’s fundraiser

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - HIGH PROFILE - — Story and pho­tos by Helaine R. Wil­liams

HOT SPRINGS — A record crowd of 900 peo­ple showed up at the Em­bassy Suites on Feb. 3 to at­tend the 15th an­nual Cho­co­late Fes­ti­val, held as a fundraiser for Co­op­er­a­tive Chris­tian Min­istries and Clinic (CCMC). Ken Good­man served as the an­nouncer for the event, which also fea­tured vo­cal num­bers by the Fun City Cho­rus and jug­gling and bal­loon sculp­tures by Justin Time. Artist Red did a live paint­ing.

As­sisted by a small army of vol­un­teers, at­ten­dees shopped silent auc­tion items and — along with a panel of judges — nib­bled treats by var­i­ous restau­rants, ho­tels and other es­tab­lish­ments vy­ing for best-of awards. Con­tenders were Abbi Cakes, An­gels in the Park, Bistro 400, Bleu Mon­key Grill, Brick House Grill, CHI St. Vin­cent, Dolce Gelato, Em­bassy Suites, Evilo Oils & Vine­gars, Kil­wins Hot Springs, Malvern Na­tional Bank, the Na­tional Park Col­lege Hos­pi­tal­ity & Tourism Pro­gram, Red Light Roast­ery, The Ar­ling­ton Re­sort Ho­tel & Spa, and Vault. VIP guests tasted treats in a sep­a­rate area.

When the cho­co­late set­tled, Malvern Na­tional Bank won best pre­sen­ta­tion for its cho­co­late mousse with fresh mixed berries in phyllo tart shells, driz­zled in gourmet cho­co­late. Evilo won the Peo­ple’s Choice award for its Cho­co­late Tacos — stamped crepes filled with a salted caramel cheese­cake fill­ing, dipped in cho­co­late and ac­cented with sea salt and crushed hard caramel pieces. An­gels in the Park won best taste with a Torta Pas­sano Cho­co­late — a torte en­riched with or­ange, along with dark and white cho­co­late chips; served with dark cho­co­late or­ange sauce and white cho­co­late Tuaca sauce; and topped with can­died or­ange peel.

Fes­ti­val pro­ceeds will sup­port the med­i­cal, den­tal, vi­sion and phar­macy ser­vices of­fered by CCMC, as well as case man­age­ment and the Bridges Out of Poverty Get­ting Ahead classes of­fered there.

Heather Hud­son, Eric Weg­ner, Robert and Vikki Tanker­s­ley, Justin Win­ton and Wade Cas­tle

Judge Joe and Erica Gra­ham with their daugh­ter, Camilla

Mary Haner, Jami Stein­siek and Cher­rie Sweeney, all of El Do­rado, and Lori Ford of Green­brier

Janet and Dr. Jack Porter with Cindy Wagstaff and Tracy Sublett

Lynn Blanken­ship, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Co­op­er­a­tive Chris­tian Min­istries and Clinic, with Brad Hud­gens, one of the event judges

Josh Adams, who goes by the name Artist Red, works on a paint­ing.

Joel New­burn, Hot Springs Mayor Pat Mc­Cabe and Frank Poff

Cho­co­late-theme morsels await tast­ing.

Chris Stephens and Betsy Van Dusen, both of Lit­tle Rock, with Sue Polk

Va­lerie Bras­sell with Cas­sius Soft­ley and Pier Clay

The Fun City Cho­rus per­forms.

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