It was a chocolate lover’s paradise at the Dallas Branch of the Fort Smith Public Library on Sunday (Sept. 30), as supporters turned out for the fourth annual Friends of the Library Chocolate Festival. Hosted by the Friends of the Fort Smith Public Library, the event featured desserts and treats from 24 area businesses and organizations.
For $5, guests received six tickets to “purchase” desserts from the participating vendors. Local bakeries, churches, non-profit organizations and civic groups took part in the event by serving up a wide-variety of chocolates and decadent treats. Cupcakes, cookies, candies and brownies, as well as homemade chocolate bark and fudge were among just a few of the selections.
Proceeds from the festival benefited the Friends of the Fort Smith Public Library. The Friends is a non-profit organization that supports the library system both financially and through volunteers. Funding from the organization helps purchase additional books, DVDs, and other materials for FSPL.
Friends of the Library also plays a very important role in supporting the library’s community outreach projects.
“The Friends underwrite many other projects, such as author visits and the annual Summer Reading Program,” said Jennifer Goodson, FSPL Director. “They also provide funding for special projects and equipment, such as the new play cubes we have in the children's area at each location, our popular TumbleBooks eBooks for children service, and our movie screening licenses.”
Many other non-profit organizations were on-hand sharing both desserts, and information about the work they do in the community. Recipients from Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Crawford and Sebastian Counties volunteered their time to pass out brownie bites at the festival and to tell others about the program.
“This is a great event because it supports a wonderful cause and helps organizations like ours get our name out there, as well,” said Linda Kaufenberg, Single Parent Scholarship Fund Executive Director.
A group of CHICKS (Community Helpers Investing in Caring Kind Service) gave visitors the opportunity to customize their dessert at its “create your own topping” bar. Guests could choose from yellow, strawberry and chocolate cupcakes and have them iced and topped with their favorite candies.
Merelyn Aubrey started CHICKS for her granddaughters.
“It is our Mimi and girls club,” said Aubrey. “I wanted to do something to show my girls the importance of helping others, so I started us a service club.”
Aubrey involves her granddaughters in community service activities, such as the festival, to help demonstrate how their work can benefit others. Following the event, CHICKS had plans to deliver the leftovers to an area nursing home and visit with the residents there.
Mary Edith’s Scone Company offered guests the chance to sample some of their tasty scones that have become famous at the library. Offered at Dewey’s Café in the main library, the treats are well-known by those who frequent the branch.
Several individual “friends” of the library also provided treats for the event. Former long-time librarian Louise Turner offered guests buried cherry cookies and chocolate cherry cake. DeLois Crawford and her grandson, Casey Goodson, served up homemade jumbo chocolate dipped marshmallows and chocolate Nutter Butter truffles.
In addition to the wide-variety of chocolate treats, gourmet coffees, hot teas and cocoa were also for sale. Take-out boxes were available for $1 for those wanting to save some of their treats for a little later.
The popular Friends Centennial Cookbook was also for sale at the festival. For $20, individuals could take home the classic recipes to try in their own kitchens. Guests were encouraged to purchase a $10 Friend of the Library membership, as well.
The festival continues to be a popular fundraiser for the group, with new participants coming on board and with new faces showing up to taste the chocolate treats.
“Last year 370 tickets were redeemed, meaning that 2,220 chocolate samples were distributed,” said Goodson “We hope to meet if not exceed that number this year.”