Chamber to drop Chocolate Fest
Hortonville Village Board asked to run event
By John Faucher
The Fox West Chamber of Commerce is asking the Village of Hortonville or a local civic group to consider taking over Chocolate Fest.
Chocolate Fest began in 2009 as a way to promote the Hortonville business community. It is the largest annual event that takes place in the village.
Village President Traci Martens told the Village Board Thursday, Oct. 6, the initial request from the chamber was that they were looking for the Village of Hortonville to take over the event.
“They are growing and stretching geographically so it seemed to their membership off balance to do one event for Hortonville and not do them for other communities,” Martens said.
Village Administrator Dianne Wessel informed the board that the chamber wanted to move away from running events to focus its efforts on programming that is more representative of all the communities that the chamber serves.
It was noted that the chamber would still make a financial contribution to the event as it has done with other community events.
“They are asking us if the village or some entity of the village would be interested in taking over Chocolate Fest,” Martens said.
Board member Peter Olk asked when they hoped to accomplish that.
“[The chamber] initially told me they would work with whatever entity would be interested in taking over the event in 2017, and then they would be completely out of it by 2018,” Wessel said.
Martens said she informed the chamber of the Hortonville Civic Association, which is who the village supports and works with for event planning and co-ordination within the village.
Martens read portions of the letter to the board.
“The amount of resources to produce such an event are considerable (financial, volunteers, sponsorships), and the Chamber only has one staff person. The event requires about 45 percent of the staff person’s time during the first 5-6 months of the year. The revenue in recent years has declined or been flat,” the letter stated.
In the past, event revenue was directed to scholarships for high school students.
The letter also said many groups that currently participate in Chocolate Fest are from Hortonville, and could play a larger role in event planning and logistics.
“With multiple groups participating, the number of volunteers and other resources could be leveraged for a more successful event for the community,” the letter said.
“It seems clear to me that this is something we need to talk with the civic association about and see their capabilities. I guess I’m just looking for a head nod from this group if you agree that’s how we should proceed with this,” Martens said.
Board member Peter Olk, who is also a member of the Hortonville Civic Association, said the group would consider it at its next meeting.
“We certainly do not want to see [Chocolate Fest] go by the wayside, but the village does not have the resources to take over an event of that size,” Wessel said.