The Chocolate Walk? To learn more we interviewed Jane Weatherford from the Brown County Humane Society who organize The Chocolate Walk every year.
Jane, thank you for agreeing to talk with here on The Chocolate Cult.
It’s my pleasure, TammyJo. Thanks so much for the opportunity!
The Chocolate Walk is a fundraising event to benefit Brown County’s homeless pets. Over 35 shops and chocolatiers participate in the event. Ticket holders are provided a map of participating shops. They stroll from shop to shop in the Village of Nashville and sample delicious chocolate treats. The variety is amazing! It’s been described as “Halloween for grown-ups!”. Many groups make this an annual event and stay in Brown County for the entire weekend. Each year new shops join the Chocolate Walk, so ticket holders get to find fun new shops that they may not have discovered on their own.
The Brown County Humane Society is a private, volunteer supported non-profit organization dedicated to serving Brown County’s homeless dogs and cats. With a passion for humane care & education, BCHS operates the county's only animal shelter, accepting and placing all county animals except those deemed too vicious or ill to save. Despite its small size & budget, BCHS rehomes over 95% of the animals it receives, placing it in the top tier of shelters nationally. (The national average Save Rate is 50%). The BCHS also operates a vital, low-cost spay/neuter/vaccine and outreach program, which has since 2010 successfully halved the number of animals being admitted to the shelter. With a record of compassion and success, the Brown County Humane Society embodies the power of a positive community for the animals and people it serves! Of course, all that good work has to be funded and as a private, non-profit the BCHS is dependent on individual donors and fundraising events. The Chocolate Walk is an integral part of our annual revenue. Every bit of proceeds from this event goes directly to caring for the shelter’s homeless pets.
Proceeds from the Chocolate Walk cover the cost of operating the animal shelter for about one month.
How did the walk get started?
It was serendipity. In the summer of 2007, I was vacationing with my family in Pennsylvania. We just happened upon a little tourist town named Lititz while on our way Philadelphia. We saw flyers in several shops advertising a Chocolate Walk to benefit a local charity. I asked one of the shop owners what the Chocolate Walk was. As luck would have it, she was one of the Chocolate Walk organizers! She was so helpful in explaining how their Chocolate Walk worked and she encouraged me to attend. That October, another Brown County Humane Society board member and I drove to Lititz to attend their Chocolate Walk to determine if it would work as a fundraiser for us. It seemed like a perfect fit and the rest is history!
This year we have 36 stops on the Chocolate Walk. The biggest so far! Every chocolatier donates all of their product and time to the event. We do have a few shops this year that will have “non-edible” chocolate items. When Chocolate Walkers get satiated with delicious, edible chocolate, they will be taking home chocolate candles, soaps, or other items to enjoy later!
Have you had any complaints from businesses or Nashville residents about the event? Any complaints about businesses or residents from the walkers?
I can’t recall any complaints from businesses or residents. Before our first Chocolate Walk, we visited with several Nashville shop owners to get an idea of what would work for them. We wanted the event to be as beneficial for them as for the BCHS. Those shop owners helped us settle on the 2nd Saturday in November as the best date. Business in Nashville drops off after October; therefore, November was good. We knew we could not do it in the hot summer months and the humane society has another big event in May, so November worked well for everyone.
We have had a few bumps in the road with participating shops not preparing enough chocolate, not having a good traffic pattern through their shop or not realizing how busy they would be, but we’ve usually been able to work through the issues and hopefully our Chocolate Walkers have not noticed. Everyone is in such wonderful spirits on Chocolate Walk day, that a few minor inconveniences don’t seem to bother anyone!
We start planning the Chocolate Walk in March and the biggest challenge is getting all the shops on board. We have to get agreements signed and bios written for the booklet. It is sometimes a challenge getting those administrative items taken care of in time to print the booklet. Our other challenge is finding sponsors for the event. Sponsors help cover the expenses related to the Chocolate Walk so that all proceeds can go directly to the shelter dogs and cats.
The Brown County Humane Society hosts another chocolate related fundraiser in February. Could you tell us a bit about that event?
Our February chocolate event, Chocolate! Chocolate!, is a smorgasbord of chocolate in one location along with a silent auction. Our very loyal supporters, volunteers and board members all make their favorite chocolate treats and donate them to the event. Usually held on the Sunday before Valentine’s Day, all these freshly created homemade treats are delivered to the event hall that morning. They are cut into bite-size pieces and arranged buffet-style. Ticket holders then spend the afternoon listening to music, enjoying the chocolate and bidding on auction items. It’s a delightful day all to benefit homeless pets.
Finally is there anything you'd like our readers to know about the Brown County Humane Society or The Chocolate Walk that I haven't asked about?
We limit Chocolate Walk tickets to 1250 and have sold out prior to the event the last few years, so buy early! Tickets are $20 prior to Nov 1 and then are $25 from Nov 1-8 (or whenever we sell out!). They are available at www.bchumane.org.
Thank you so much, Jane, for speaking with us today.
Thanks for having me and for helping spread the word about the Chocolate Walk!
Will you join us at this annual walk to help animals and experience a wide variety of wonderful chocolate on November 8, 2014? Get your TICKETS soon because they will sell out and the price will go up later on. Leave us a comment and let us know.