by Angela Friedman, NCJW Omaha Section Public Relations Correspondent and Corresponding Secretary
On Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) Omaha Section threw everybody’s favorite fundraiser: the Great Omaha Chocolate Festival! At least 50 vendors filled the La Vista Conference Center. The entrance fees gave every sweet tooth five sample tickets for an adult and three sample tickets for a child. Raffle tickets and extra sample tickets were also sold. Months in advance, the vendors were asking to be a part of this yearly sweet-fest. Most of the vendors were from Omaha area; however, several were from small towns in Nebraska and Iowa and from Lincoln.
The students from the Culinary Arts: Baking and Pastry Arts Program at Iowa Western Community College were able to show off their sweet treats from the long hours they spend honing their craft. They also displayed an attractive and informative diorama explaining how chocolate is made. Pettit’s Pastry and Lithuanian Bakery seemed to be the most popular. Pettit’s Pastry had a steady line of guests eager to try their treats. Lithuanian Bakery was giving away whole slices of their delectable Lithuanian Torte for one sample ticket! What a bargain! Other vendors who shared their products included Nothing Bundt Cakes (who donated a Bundt for our raffle), Savory Spice Shop, Dove Chocolate, Sawdust Factory & Sauce Shoppe, Mockingbird Cupcakes, Edible Arrangements, and many more! Stories Coffeehouse brought samples from L Pastries, which is inside the coffeehouse. I spoke with the owners and they told me they have folk and jazz music on Thursday to Saturday nights from 11 pm along with wine and other drinks on their menu. Stories Coffeehouse is located on 1129 S. 180th Street. Northwoods Cheese Haus in Papillion offers Wisconsin cheeses and sausages and other Artisan cheeses discovered on their travels all over the world. They even have chocolate cheese wheels! Check them out and you can travel through your taste buds. An amazing woman in the Omaha Jewish community is an entrepreneur as well! Mardee Brechwald has her own home-based business doing custom sewing for windows, pillows, and more! Check her out on Etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/smardeepants. Her business is called Smardee Pants/Custom Sewing and she has adorable products. Other community businesses that came were Hiland Dairy, SMEJ’s Snacks & More, Garbo’s Salons and Spas, BeautiControl, Alotta Brownies, Just Pop’d, Jock & Jill’s Popcorn, Kona Ice, and many other vendors. A See’s Candies booth was staffed by NCJW member Julie Martin with her daughter Rachel and son David. As you can see, this event turned into a wonderful family affair. NCJW sold some cookbooks and showed off the charity work we have done in the past.
Publicity for this event was wonderful: TV publicity on KETV 7, radio publicity on NRG Media stations, signs around town, e-mails, and word of mouth. Q98.5 produced their afternoon program with Jenny Olive from the Chocolate Festival for two hours to encourage people to come get their chocolate fix.
The 4th Annual Great Omaha Chocolate Festival went very smoothly and was very organized thanks to the Chocolate Festival Chair, Roxanne Kahn, and her Committee: Tina Meyers, Debbie Friedman, Sonia Tipp, Jan Fischer, Beth Dworkin, Holly Weill, Alice Klein and Sarah Spooner.
Thank you also to all the volunteers and those who recruited our vendors! Without you, we could not have pulled this off. Some of BBYO helped out as well as others in the community. Once again, the Chocolate Festival was a success. Next year’s will be even bigger!