New Chocolate Fest organizer eager to begin work on this year’s event

Kathy Bockus/Courier St. Stephen businesswoman Rose Mitchell has taken on the job of coordfinator and oversight manager for Chocolate Fest, scheduled this year for Aug. 4-11.

St. Stephen – Rose Mitchell will tell you, no (chicken) bones about it – she loves chocolate.
“I love chocolate; I am a chocolate lover,” she states with uninhibited glee.

Mitchell is the new oversight manager/coordinator of Chocolate Fest in St. Stephen.
She has hit the ground running in her new capacity, balancing the details of organizing the 34th annual celebration of the town’s love affair with all things chocolate with running her 18-year-old business, Headstart Pre-school.

“I’ve taken the bull by the horns,” she said with an infectious laugh. “To me, this is a new adventure.”
Maria Kulcher, chair of the festival’s board of directors, said the festival was once again

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“Extremely fortunate in having the right person at the right time” organizing the community’s signature festival.
“St. Stephen’s Chocolate Fest shines a spotlight on Canada’s Chocolate Town, and brings in so very many visitors and friends, all of whom enjoy the varied activities centered on chocolate and fun. Rose Mitchell is the perfect person to keep this decades-old festival humming in 2018,” stated Kulcher.

Mitchell said her personal motto, ever since she saw the movie Field of Dreams featuring Kevin Costner, is “If you build it, they will come.”
She’s applying that to Chocolate Fest and is pleased to announce there are already at least six or seven new events families will be able to enjoy this year. The final details of those are still being worked out so she’s saving a further announcement on the specifics for a later date.

Mitchell has been surveying friends – parents of young children who would attend festival events – and been listening to what they’ve had to say. They all want the old favourites to continue – the pudding eating contest, the cookie decorating contest, the races and the music downtown in the David Alison Ganong Chocolate Park. The baking contest for kids will also return thanks to the sponsorship of the Atlantic Superstore.

One parent’s suggestion about not being off during the day to take children to events, led Mitchell to plan some evening entertainment, some of which will be centered around treasure hunt- themed events.

One new event for certain will be a children’s “Dip ’N Chocolate Paint,” with 20 spots available. Details on other events are still being planned.

“We have some very, very exciting, big, huge news for the Pink Carpet Chicken Bone Gala this year,” said Mitchell. Some new entertainment (she’s not revealing yet who or what) has been booked from Fredericton and a “new singer is coming on board this year.”
The gala will be held at the Garcelon Civic Center and will feature new menus, a silent auction and the selection of three inductees into the Chocolate Lover’s Hall of Fame.

“The festival is coming together,” said Mitchell. “We are working on many old events and introducing many new events and are also planning for our huge year next year – the 35th anniversary of the festival and the 100th birthday of the Pal-O-Mine bar.”
Mitchell said her personal love affair with chocolate began at the age of five when her grandmother, Betty Murray, gave her her first piece of chocolate.

Murray had chicken bones at that special time of year – Christmas – recalled Mitchell. “I remember going to her candy dish and I was allowed to have two, not one, but two, chicken bones.

“So that’s where my love of chocolate starts – with her.”
Mitchell said she always made sure her four children had the opportunity to participate in Chocolate Fest events “every single year.”

She said the festival is an excellent way for families new to the area to meet other parents and kids.
Mitchell said she’s trying to strike a balance between online and social media information about the festival with the hands on convenience of the printed brochure. “The way of the world today is social media and online,” she stated, “but people love having a brochure; they like to have something in their hands, something to keep in their car.”

Mitchell said anyone who wants to volunteer with the festival this year can contact her at 120 Milltown Blvd. or by phone at 465-5616.

And as for her favourite chocolate?

“It’s a toss-up between the Almontino and the Chicken Bone,” said Mitchell with a smile.

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Kathy Bockus
Journalist Kathy Bockus is based in St. Stephen and has worked for The Saint Croix Courier as a general news reporter and feature writer for the past 15 years. She began her lengthy newspaper career in 1974 with a daily in Saint John. Bockus says she always jokes being a reporter is a licence to be nosey, but firmly believes that everyone has a story to tell. She can be contacted at 321-0759.