Chocolate will flow through the Black Hills this weekend as three separate chocolate festivals give residents and visitors several options for sweet treats.
Spearfish Chocolate Festival
Spearfish residents get the earliest start with the fourth annual Spearfish Chocolate Festival in Spearfish City Park Pavilion. The event is run by the Greater Good of the Black Hills, a nonprofit that uses it as a fundraiser for the local charities YouthWise and the TEAMMATES program.
"It's a great trade show for local vendors that's also for a good cause," said Crissy Sieber, representative.
More than $6,000 was raised at last year's event, and around 40 vendors are expected to attend this year's festival. Those attending can take part in spectacular sweets (including a free chocolate fountain) as well as fine crafts, books and other services.
Returning vendors this year include A Little Something, Bloomin Chocolate, Firehouse Winery, Origami Owl and Caramel Creations. New vendors include Heather's Stuff, Winter Woolies, Little Crafts on the Prairie and more.
"It's only a few days before Valentine's Day, so it's a great way to get your shopping done," Sieber said.
For more information, visit facebook.com/events/683534851824234/?active_tab=about.
Tour de Chocolate
Hill City, meanwhile, will host the third annual Tour de Chocolate, in which participating merchants in downtown Hill City will offer chocolates and discounts for their items.
"Every year it seems to grow," said Jesse McHargue, manager of the handmade chocolate store Turtle Town. "We get more businesses to participate every year and get more people shopping downtown."
Around 20 businesses will participate this year, with each store offering chocolate as well as their own unique items.
"The Alpine Inn, for example, will have homemade chocolate truffles and mini cupcakes, and it gives them a chance to tell people about their lunch and dinner specials," McHargue said. "Some people offer chocolate-dipped cherries, we send our chocolate pretzel rods to different businesses. There's a lot to offer."
McHargue said the best part of the event is the small-town atmosphere that comes with the sweets.
"It's a small community, so it feels like everyone's participating, and everyone's really friendly," McHargue said.
For more information, call 574-2368.
Finally, Rapid City's fifth annual Chocopalooza will take place at the Dahl Arts Center Saturday afternoon. The event sees chocolate, wine, cakes and candies being offered along with jewelry, art and more.
"We usually see around 400 people or so, but in the past it's only been on a weeknight evening, and this year it's all day on Saturday," said organizer Jaclyn Lanae. "We expect it to be our biggest event yet."
Nearly 30 vendors are planning to attend, from returning businesses like Chubby Chipmunk, Caramel Creations and She's Nuts to new businesses like Queen Bee Garden from Wyoming and Rico's from Custer. Treats offered include truffles, caramel and chocolate-dipped apples, chocolate-dipped pretzels and more.
"There's also a lot of artists, jewelry makers, candle creators and more that are going to be there," Lanae said.
Proceeds will go to the Fork Real Community Cafe, who will also be present. There will also be a raffle and children's activities, along with a chocolate dipping station.
"You can get chocolate for your sweetheart, enjoy some wine and make reservations for dinner downtown," Lanae said. "It's a wonderful way to start your weekend."
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit thedahl.org or call 394-4101.