The Women's Fellowship held their 14th Annual Mid-Winter Chocolate Festival at the First Congregational Church on Main Street in Portland on Feb. 6.
Nancy Johnson, chairperson of the Women's Fellowship, explained that this fundraiser started out as a simple church “rummage sale.” In addition to supplying its own basic needs, the profit provides support for various community projects such as Portland High School's Project Graduation as well as nationwide mission trips.
Although traditionally on the first Saturday of the month, bad weather pushed the Festival to Sunday and decreased the typical number of visitors from all over the Northeast. Many booth workers explained the church is usually jammed with a line spanning all the way down the parking lot. Nevertheless, the event was a great success and all the hours spent at workshops in preparation for it were worth the effort.
This event is a highlight for many church members like Peggy Rider.
"It brings joy to your life,” Rider said.
With some living in Meriden and others in Massachusetts, one family said the Festival serves as a reunion for them each year.
Upon entering the church, a cheerful door greeter offered chocolate kisses.
The sound of the church's pianist and the rich smell of chocolate decadence filled the air as guests perused various booths stocked with homemade goodies and crafts, or relaxed while enjoying coffee and dessert in the Chocolate Mousse Cafe.
The hostess seated guests at little red-clothed tables each dressed with a rose and a chocolate fun fact. All menu items were prepared by the Women's Fellowship members, with the exception of the chocaholic's delight: double truffle black beast, a chocolate cake layered with chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse and topped with a chocolate truffle, which is prepared by a local bakery called Sweet Memories.
The homemade desserts ranged from double-dipped chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate ganache layered cake, to the chocolate fest sampler, ideal for the indecisive with a sliver of the chocolate peanut butter mousse pie, the decadent turtle cheesecake and a big juicy strawberry dipped in dark and white chocolate. Each dessert was rich, satisfying and well worth the hype.
Outside of the cafe was the Candy Booth with every possible type of chocolate pop, truffle or confection. The Craft Booth featured fun and creative zipper pulls, chocolate truffle candles, hand-crafted earrings by Mary Pont, as well as beautiful cards made from photography by Dianne Burgess.
The Baked Goods and Baskets room showcased a variety of confections, cookies and even homemade soup, as well as quirky and elaborate themed baskets.
The “Not Just for Kids” Craft Room offered tables for arts and crafts and even a manicure table.
At the Chocolate Festival, indulgence was an understatement, but the knowledge that all the funds were going toward a good cause, helped to put calorie counting at ease.