by Sherrie Saag, Communications Specialist, Jewish Federation of Omaha
Called a “dream event for those with a sweet tooth,” the National Council of Jewish Women’s (NCJW) Great Omaha Chocolate Festival is this year’s recipient of the Jewish Federation of Omaha’s Community Service Award.
Conceived, planned and executed by the Omaha section of NCJW, the Festival took place last September in the UNO Fieldhouse. The inaugural event drew over 2200 people and included chocolate-themed food and goodies available to sample, order and purchase.
According to co-chairwoman Jan Fischer, the Festival was an affordable, fun, family event featuring chocolate in a myriad of delicious forms. “Children’s activities included making art with chocolate, and the Jewish teens helping out earned money for their respective youth groups.”
Fischer added, “NCJW’s major focus is to work to improve the lives of those in need in our own community. The Festival raised about $10,000 with the proceeds going towards our many community projects including mini-grants for teachers’, Reading Pups, Women for Career Advancement (WCA), and the Adopt-a-School program.”
The event certainly excited and motivated an already active NCJW group. “We need to acknowledge the amazing work of Sonia Tipp and Fundraising Co-Chair, Melinda Graham, as well as all of our members for their support. Sonia and Melinda secured 29 vendors, and our publicity campaign included print, television, Facebook and a banner strung across Dodge at 60th Street.” Over 100 volunteers made it all possible, including the attendance of at least 14 past section presidents.
Vendors included Art Chicks, the Bread Oven, Candyopolis, the Chocolate Bar, Chocolate Peacock Boutique, the Cookie Company, Cordial Cherry, Janicek’s Cake Box, Le Quartier Baking Co., Pettit’s Pastry, Purjava Coffee, Rocket Fizz, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Trader Joes and many more.
Private Chef Karin Waggoner of Hy-Vee offered samples of chocolate chili and Petit’s Bakery introduced a new line of baked goods. Garbo’s squeezed dollops of body chocolate soufflé into outstretched hands, the Lithuanian Bakery sampled two new tortes and co-sponsor Baker’s Candies of Greenwood, Nebraska debuted chocolate covered potato chips.
Event co-chair Holly Weill said, “It was great to produce an event that made so many people happy while at the same time providing for so many worthy projects.”
At the time, Tipp was amazed at the number of people who inquired about a second or “annual” Chocolate Festival. Well, Weill says they don’t have much longer to wait. The 2nd Annual Great Omaha Chocolate Festival is scheduled for Sept. 30, from noon – 5 p.m. at the UNO Fieldhouse. This year’s chairwomen, Joanie Jacobson and Beth Friedman, promise even greater Chocolate confectioniers and vendors.
The Community Service Award will be presented to the National Council of Jewish Women during a special Awards Night, June 4 at 7 p.m., in the Theatre. The entire community is invited to attend.