Oregon Chocolate Festival raises money for local hospital
Chocolatiers, breweries and wineries gathered for the last day of the Oregon Chocolate Festival in Ashland.
"From truffles to tablets to bonbons, whatever you are looking for that has chocolate, most likely, you will find it here," festival organizer Karolina Lavagnino said.
With 42 vendors from across the nation, it was a chocolate festival that Willy Wonka himself would have been proud of.
"I think he would be very proud of all the chocolate and he will probably participate and have his own vendor booth with Oompa Loompas working," Jacob Nunes from Ashland Springs Hotel said.
He said the three-day festival was an event for guests of all ages to enjoy.
"Really high energy," Nunes said. "Everybody seems to have a good time, smiles. There's a little bit of a sugar high and then there's wine tasting so everybody is just having a really good time and you could feel it."
Lavagnino said the festival created networking opportunities for participants to perfect their craft.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for everyone who is in the world of chocolate to learn from each other, to find new ways of teaching," Lavagnino said.
Coming all the way from North Carolina, chocolatier David Winningham said his collection of flavors continues to grow.
"My list of flavors is pretty extensive," Winningham said. "I've brought 12 for this one, but I think I have about 50 or 60 flavors overall."
With ten percent of ticket sales going toward the Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, the proceeds will benefit their neonatal intensive care unit.
"Children and animals... the're charities we decided to support, so if it's one of those that's the ones we like to go through," Winningham said.
It is an important cause for Lavagnino and many others across the nation.
"For mee, my daughter was born two months early and spent a month of her life in a NICU in Medford," Lavagnino said.
Lavagnino said the festival raised over $2,000 for the hospital last year. With the highest amount of ticket sales in the history of the festival, she said they expect to have raised even more this year.