Botanical Center brings locals together with Chocolate Experience

Katherine Hogan

On Saturday April 6, the Botanical Center will be hosting their Chocolate Experience event. This event will have 12 different local vendors who will be selling everything from chocolate toffee to chocolate ale as well as offering free samples of some of their products.

There will be a character or two from “Willy Wonka” selling chocolate bars for a chance to win a ‘golden ticket’ which could be good for memberships, passes and other activities at the Quad City Botanical Center.  There will also be chocolate crafts, a fire-pit for s’mores and tours and scavenger hunts in the sun garden.

Ami Porter, executive director of the Botanical Center, spoke about the goal of hosting the event.

“Our mission is to bring people and plants together in fun and meaningful ways – and the Chocolate Experience meets that mission.  We have a couple of Cacao trees growing in the gardens, and so it’s wonderful to be able to showcase a plant who many may not recognize as the source of their favorite candy,” Porter said.

Porter adds that it will be a social, family friendly event.  According to Porter, many past attendees’ favorite part of the event—besides free samples—is the chance to visit with local small businesses. Porter hopes students will be interested as well.

“This event has a wonderful appeal to guests of all ages.  It is a fun outing for families and also for friends to come together in groups or pairs.  Some of our volunteers for the event will be students from Augustana’s Camp Kesem team,” Porter said.

One of the vendors participating in Chocolate Experience is Taste Buds, located in downtown Rock Island. This will be Taste Buds’ second time participating in this event.

Owner Angel Forgie bought Taste Buds in January 2018 without any retail experience.

“I knew I could learn anything I needed.  And with just a love of coffee, teas, smoothies and of course chocolate. It’s been an interesting year,” Forgie said.

For Chocolate Experience, Taste Buds will be selling home made candy including chocolate flavored coffees, chocolate covered nuts and fruits as well as spa products using chocolate as an ingredient.

Some free samples that Taste Buds will have include several of the chocolate covered nuts and fruits.

Another vendor attending the event will be Shameless Chocoholic, who has participated in the Chocolate Experience event several times in the past.

Shameless Chocoholic was formerly known as Olde Fashion Candy Company (1997-2008) and was reopened with locations in Le Claire, IA in 2013 and in downtown Moline in 2017 under its new name.

“I’ve been in the chocolate business for over 20 years. Along with a great team of we produce over 120 different products on the premises of our Moline store,” owner Rebecca Burns said. Burns commented on why Shameless Chocoholic is participating in the event.

“We’re participating to support the Botanical Center and increase visibility of our company,” Burns said. “Chocolate is loved by all, so this event will bring people together to socialize, sample products and help support a great fundraiser for the Botanical Center.”

Shameless Chocoholic will be offering chocolate covered bacon at the event.Other vendors that will be at the event include Chocolate Manor, Fannie Mae, Scentsy, the Institute of Therapeutic Massage, Nana’s Pleasures, Candy’s Sweet Treats, G’s Gourmet Popcorn, Whitey’s Ice Cream, and Lena Brewery.

For this event there are three time slots: 9 am – 11 am, noon – 2 pm, and 3 pm – 5 pm,  in order to keep the event less crowed.  Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.

Ticket prices at the door will be $12 for adults and $6 for youth. All proceeds will go back to the Botanical Centers mission of bringing people and plants together in fun and meaningful ways.

Porter hopes the event will promote learning of the QC Botanical Center and local businesses.  “We hope that you will come out, enjoy, get to know the Botanical Center and other local small businesses.  We think you will be pleased that you did,” Porter said.