CHOCOLATE — Thousands of chocolate-inspired treats are available for purchase at the Chocolate Celebration that will be held at Kokomo First Church of the Nazarene on Feb. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Proceeds of the event help support Samaritan Caregivers. For the best selection, arrive early.
Herald Photo / File
CHOCOLATE — Thousands of chocolate-inspired treats are available for purchase at the Chocolate Celebration that will be held at Kokomo First Church of the Nazarene on Feb. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Proceeds of the event help support Samaritan Caregivers. For the best selection, arrive early. Herald Photo / File

On Feb. 2, the doors of Kokomo First Church of the Nazarene (2734 S. Washington St.) will open at 11 a.m. for Samaritan Caregivers’ 16th annual Chocolate Celebration. 

More than 40 vendors will be on hand to provide sweet chocolate treats for guests to purchase, from known candy companies like title sponsor J. Edwards Gourmet Chocolates & Cakes bringing its popular chocolate-covered strawberries to long-time participant St. Vincent Kokomo. 

“There will be something for everyone, including sugar-free or gluten-free items,” said Jamey Henderson, director of Samaritan Caregivers. 

J. Edwards Gourmet Chocolates & Cakes has participated in the Chocolate Celebration for 14 years. The store’s James Glaub remarked how much the event has grown over the last decade. 

“It has changed venues, and the attendance from the vendors and the community has grown drastically,” said Glaub. “People really look forward to this day of celebration.

“As a small business, we love supporting our community, especially when it benefits an amazing organization such as Samaritan Caregivers. We also love seeing all our customers at the event. Not only is it an event for Samaritan Caregivers, but it is a day all about chocolate. And that’s what J. Edwards is all about. We want to share our passion for fine chocolates.”

In addition to having items for purchase, each vendor will provide an item to be judged by members of local media outlets. Twelve winners will be awarded in four categories: candy, baked, beverage, and miscellaneous. People’s Choice and Best Display awards are handed out as well.

“Some of our vendors put a lot of thought into their displays, going above and beyond to have a great presentation,” Henderson said. “It’s thrilling for us to see the event unfold, all of the generous community-minded vendors who come to the event bringing large amounts of chocolate. We are humbled by the outpour of support from the vendors, our sponsors, and the attendees. The vendors are a key to our success. Without them, we wouldn’t have an event.”
St. Vincent Kokomo is another longtime participant in the event and once again is returning this year. 

“We at St. Vincent Kokomo know supporting local organizations such as Samaritan Caregivers is another way we can support independence for the most vulnerable in Howard County,” said Margie Johnson, regional president, St. Vincent Kokomo. “The annual Chocolate Celebration is a unique and fun-filled way to raise funds, and St. Vincent Kokomo is always excited to be among local chocolatiers to support not only Samaritan Caregivers but also our community.” 

Admission is free to the event. To purchase any of the treats at the Chocolate Celebration, tickets can be purchased two for $5. Tickets can be purchased ahead of the event at the Samaritan Caregivers’ office (2705 S. Berkley Road) or from J. Edwards Gourmet Chocolates & Cakes (2106 W. Sycamore St.).
Samaritan Caregivers is keeping an up-to-date list of vendors and the chocolate offerings they will prepare for the event online at samaritancaregivers.org. Henderson said that it is not uncommon for guests of the event to plan out what vendors they will visit first, much like Black Friday shopping. 

“We will sell a lot of tickets the day of the event,” Henderson said. “If guests don’t want to wait in line, pre-purchasing is a great strategy to avoid the wait.”
Henderson also said she understands that some personal schedules do not allow some to attend, and if they want to purchase items, they can contact the Samaritan Caregivers office and request VIP shopping.

“We do tell people that if they can’t get to the event due to work schedule, if they want to buy tickets ahead and are willing to take a grab bag of chocolate or give us a shopping list, within reasonable limitations, we’ll shop for them. They can pick it up later,” said Henderson.