Chocolate in all shapes, sizes and mixtures was enjoyed by the nearly 600 people who celebrated the 33rd annual Chocolate Festival at the Riverwoods Conference Center on Saturday evening.

“I love to see how many people show up to this event,” said volunteer Caitlyn Clarke as she handed out chocolate cake pops to the growing line of people at her booth. “There are so many people that come together for this cause, and that is a special thing to see.”

For 33 years, the volunteer-run Chocolate Festival has been a fundraising event for Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. 2020 marks PPAU’s 50th Anniversary of providing health care and education to Utahns.

New to this year’s festival was a premier category of desserts sponsored by local organizations and businesses, including Cafe Ibis, Cache Democrats, Bluebird Candy Co. and more.

With a chocolate tasting fee and a continuous silent auction throughout the evening and a live auction/awards finale, the event raised nearly $35,000 last year. With a larger turnout this year, it is estimated that the money raised on Saturday surpassed last year’s record.

All of the proceeds go back into the community to provide thousands of Logan residents and other Utahns with health care like cancer screenings, birth control and STI testing and treatment.

“Planned Parenthood’s funding has been threatened over the past couple of years,” said Colleen O’Neill, volunteer organizer for the festival. “It can be a controversial issue for some, but the event itself has never really faced much criticism. It is a nice time to come together and enjoy chocolate.”

While it’s only her third year on the planning committee, Joy Brisighella has been involved in the Chocolate Festival for many years.

“1997 was the first year I came to this event and I knew right away that this was something I wanted more of in my life,” Brisighella said. “I was so impressed and the event just keeps growing every year, it blows me away.”

Samples of 10 chocolate desserts were included in the entrance fee, and the attendees could choose between 42 dessert entries of chocolate concoctions, including a cake with a fondant version of U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff’s face displayed on the front, a pan of Notorious R.B.G. brownies and dark chocolate raspberry truffles presided over by a suffragette barbie doll.

“It is a creative community event and it is special to see families and friends come together for a good cause,” Brisighella said.

Heidi Doward brought her 3-year-old daughter for the second year in a row to try all the different chocolates.

“It is so neat to see all the donations that come in,” Doward said. “Everything is done in the spirit of supporting and giving.”

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