LEWISTON — Nearly 400 chocolate lovers of all ages gathered Sunday at the Green Ladle in Lewiston for the third annual Chocolat! competition.
Some had their favorites among the nine competitors. Others simply savored the decadent pleasure of spending an afternoon taste testing the delicate, delectable desserts. But most were like Chantel Howe, who liked the idea of combining one of her favorite food groups and fundraising for a good cause.
"It's cool that there's people that care about the middle school and they're trying to raise money for us to be able to do stuff," said Howe, a seventh-grader at Lewiston Middle School.
The annual event featured chocolate treats of all varieties from nine local restaurants and home-based confectioners, and a tasty buffet provided by students from Lewiston Regional Technical Center Culinary Arts Program. All proceeds from the nearly 400 tickets sold goes to support end-of-the-year activities for Lewiston Middle School.
Event organizer Michael Courchesne, a French teacher at LMS, said the event has grown each year — both in the number of participating restaurants and confectioners and the number of people attending the event. A committee of seven middle school teachers and staff plan the event, while 30 more volunteer the day of the event.
"It's always excellent. I know the schools are always in need of extra money, and something like this you enjoy far more than the $10 it costs coming through the door," said Ronald Sanders of Springfield, Mass. "I came in expecting chocolate and desserts, and I wasn't disappointed."
Sanders' daughter, Sarah Levasseur, teaches English at Lewiston Middle School.
"The money helps give the kids something to look forward to," Levasseur said. "It keeps getting bigger and bigger. It's nice to see the community pulling together like this."
Attendees weren't the only ones happy about the hearty, chocolaty outcomes. Home-based confectioners like Jim Mingo recruited dozens more potential customers with his first trip to the annual event. Mingo took third place in the Candy is Dandy category. He arrived at the Green Ladle with 700 samples and was cleared out within the first hour of the event.
"It's a good community event," Mingo said. "You don't have a lot of events that draw people out to the schools to raise money other than sporting events."