By Danielle Woodward
Video by Andrea Raby
Mason Times staff writers
The aroma of chocolate filled the air at the Maple Street Mall as it hosted its fifth annual Chocolate Extravaganza Feb. 15-17.
Shoppers experienced the array of baked goods, gourmet chocolates, and a fondue provided by the mall and baked by its vendors as they browsed the antique venues at the mall, located on the courthouse square at 108 W. Maple St. in downtown Mason.
Maple Street Mall Manager Debbie Hademark said the look on people’s faces when they see the display as they walk in the door is “without a doubt” her favorite part.
“The ones that expect it and know it’s here are even pleasantly surprised at the display, and the ones that have no idea it is here are in shock and disbelief at the display,” said Hademark.
For first-time shopper Celeste Hude, the Chocolate Extravaganza was a welcome surprise and an “additional treat to walk into.”
“I came in for the chocolate but I like to look around, too. I’m on their email because we were here in January for the soup cook off and we came back for the chocolate,” said returning shopper Rosemary Laban.
Hademark said that at least half of the people that came in over the weekend mentioned they came because they had received an email or postcard about the event.
Hademark said the mall puts on events such as the Chocolate Extravaganza each month. Some of its most popular includes chili cook-offs in November, cookies in December, and soup cook offs in January.
“We started doing this five years ago when we discovered people really liked food. With 60 people represented here at the store it is kind of hard to get everybody on the same page all of the time with sales, and we have found that food is as big of a drawl as the sales, “ said Hademark.
“I volunteered purposely this weekend because the Chocolate Extravaganza brings a lot of people in and the smell of chocolate in the air is just to die for,” said vendor Deb McCurry, who contributed homemade fudge to the event.
As an umbrella business, the Maple Street Mall allows different vendors to lease space for their booth, where they in turn take care of them, collect the money for their sales, and write them a check at the end of the month, said Hademark.
Just like other food events put on by the mall, the chocolate is free, and customers can visit the Maple Street Mall website for more information on upcoming events.