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Sweet Fantasy

Silver City's annual delectable fundraiser, Feb. 10, delivers downtown excitement and a big chocolate kiss for the arts.


The Mimbres Region Arts Council (MRAC) is gearing up for Chocolate Fantasia, Saturday, Feb. 10, 12-4 p.m. And committee co-chairs Leesa Haire and Kay Wells, building on their success from last year's event and implementing some new ideas, hope to make this eighth go-round of the popular winter fundraiser smoother than a dark chocolate mousse.

"This is always a popular event," says Haire, "and last year we sold out completely! This year, 100 more tickets will be available." Tickets, on sale at the MRAC office in the Wells Fargo Bank building and six other area locations, cost $15 and entitle the holder to 15 pieces of handmade gourmet chocolate, crafted and donated by local "chocolatiers" looking to show off their culinary skills, support the arts council and compete for prizes.

The confections are served up at some 30 downtown businesses and galleries. Red gift boxes, available for purchase ($2) at the arts council and on event day, make it easy to create a one-of-a-kind Valentine's gift, Haire says.

This year, to draw consumers out to the more "outlying" locations –just a little off the beaten Broadway to Bullard to College Avenue path –special prizes donated by local businesses and individuals will be raffled off. If people go to those special locations for their chocolates, Wells explains, they will automatically be entered into the raffles, at no extra cost.

And no longer will Silver City have to wait for Monday's newspaper to find out who won "Tastiest in Show." This year's judging will take place earlier in the day, with the three winners announced at a ceremony at Isaac's Bar & Grill on the corner of Bullard and Broadway right after the event concludes at 4 p.m. Top prize is $100.

The "Red Hats" –those women of a certain age decked out in their trademark red and purple regalia –will make a repeat appearance as volunteer chocolate servers. "They are a great help to us, and always a lot of fun," says Wells, noting that the event runs entirely on volunteer power.

Haire says the chocolate competition is already heating up. Rob Connoley, co-owner of the Curious Kumquat in downtown Silver City and a previous first prize winner at the event, is known to be fiercely competitive–well, in a friendly way. "He already had his ideas (for 2007's event) in motion at the end of last year's competition," says Haire. "Rumor has it that this year's chocolates will be the best ever."

Without naming names, Haire and Wells agree they are eager to see what some of the event's well-known competitors will come up with to best their previous efforts. "Some people really go all out for this," Haire says.

Wells adds that a number of the downtown businesses serving as chocolate sites will be making the most of the exposure by having special sales, and galleries will have new shows opening. Local musicians will play at several locations throughout the event.

"It's a great opportunity to visit the new businesses that have just come into town, and for people to go to the first-time chocolate sites, too," Wells says. "There are a lot of new businesses around."

–Donna Clayton Lawder


Tickets for Chocolate Fantasia are on sale at the MRAC office, Mouse of All Trades, Gila Hike & Bike, Alotta Gelato, Leyba & Ingalls Arts, Cienega Spa & Salon and 1st New Mexico Bank of Silver City in Wal-Mart. A map of the chocolate sites will be given out with tickets. For more information about the event, call the Mimbres Region Arts Council at 538-2505.


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