, Muskogee, OK

February 7, 2013

Chocolate fest tasty for a cause

Annual event is fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity

By Leilani Roberts Ott
Phoenix Correspondent

— Take a bite out of this — a moist chocolate cupcake covered with swirls of sweet peanut butter icing topped with a miniature peanut butter cup.

This is just a taste of the seventh annual Home Sweet Home Chocolate Festival from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Muskogee Civic Center. Marla Salmon, owner of Dessert Girl’s Bakery and Cafe of Muskogee, is one of 46 restaurants and businesses participating in the fundraiser that benefits Habitat for Humanity of Muskogee. Her chocolate peanut butter cupcakes were the first thing gone from her booth at last year’s event.

Oklahoma wines, gourmet chocolates, and other treats can be tasted while the band, Reversing Radio, performs. Tickets are $15 if bought before noon today at local banks or $20 at the door. The businesses are donating their food so all the money can be used to build more homes in Muskogee, said Tara Standridge, event coordinator. Habitat has built 35 homes since it started in 1991, incorporating in 1996, Standridge said. Last year, one home was finished. The goal is two homes per year, she said. Apply to Habitat’s office, 2001 W. Okmulgee Ave., by Feb. 19

Proceeds from a live and silent auction will add to the funds. The big item will be a playhouse built by Habitat volunteers. The list of silent auction items ranges from bottles of wine donated by the Oklahoma vendors to permanent cosmetics like eyeliner, pearl necklace and earrings and oil changes.

If chocolate isn’t your favorite treat, the event offers items like ribs and bruschetta from Mahylon’s, and chicken and brisket from Kilharen’s Lodge. The two have participated every year.

Standridge, who is on the Habitat board, said the event raised $17,000 last year. The most the event has made is $24,000. The houses cost $42,500 and are financed at zero percent, she said. They are built with donated materials and with the help of contractors who donate their time.

“Habitat’s goal is for them to get out of poverty,” she said. “We teach financial literacy and help them create a budget.”

It’s Habitat’s only fundraiser.

“It draws 750 to 1,000 people,” Standridge said. “We try to do it around Valentine’s Day so it can be a date night with food, music and dancing if they want.”

Other fun food offered for tasting includes chocolate martinis from Dolce Saloon, baked fudge from Miss Addie’s, and plenty of chocolate cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered bacon, hot chocolate bar chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fondue and more.

Salmon, who just started her business in April 2012, said the event is fun and a nice change of pace. It gives her a chance to let people know about her business. A Hilldale High School business teacher for 15 years, she decided to switch careers to be able to spend more time with her children, Jake, 11, and Mylie, 7.

She encourages others to come because of the good food, fun and help they are giving to a local charity.

If you go

WHAT: Home Sweet Home Chocolate Festival.

WHEN: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Muskogee Civic Center, 425 Boston St.

TICKETS: $15 in advance before noon today at American Bank of Oklahoma, Armstrong Bank, BancFirst, Bank of America, Bank of Oklahoma, FirStar Bank and the Habitat for Humanity office, 2001 W. Okmulgee Ave.,or $20 at the door. You must be 21 to attend.

PROCEEDS: Benefits Habitat for Humanity of Muskogee.