Always Ready For Chocolate set Friday at The Commons

Let’s just say The Commons will feature more sweetness than Willy Wonka’s factory come Friday.

That’s when “Always Ready For Chocolate,” something of a spin-off of previous years’ “A Taste of Chocolate,” offers its delectable delicacies to attendees with a taste for all things rich.

The third annual event serves as a fundraiser for The Arc of Bartholomew County, a nonprofit and advocacy organization for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. The gathering will feature about 25 vendors with everything from Columbus Bar’s diesel beer brownies to pies to even chocolate-flavored popcorn and coffees. Plus, a few vendors will offer wine.

Plus, entertainment will include the Columbus East High School show choir, the East and Central Middle School jazz bands, the Silver Tones Choir from Mill Race Center, and performers from Sonya’s Dance Zone.

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“We’re really thinking the entertainment alone will make a difference for our attendance,” said Ella Boyd, executive director of The Arc, mentioning that last year’s gathering attracted slightly more than 200 people. “But that also maybe why my stress level has gone up a little. Because we’ll have to make sure we have enough chocolate (for everybody).”

A six-member organizing committee is putting the event together. Rich Anthony from 106.1 The River radio station is serving as emcee for the third straight year.

A number of years ago, when Columbus Service League organized a “Taste of Chocolate,” crowds sometimes totaled 1,000 to 2,000 people over several hours. The Arc would like to see current event grow, but the organization is working with substantially fewer volunteers.

“For us, it’s really a matter of manpower,” Boyd said.

The good news, though, is that more than 400 people on social media have indicated that they are interested in attending.

Last year, Always Ready For Chocolate generated $4,200 for the organization that receives no state or federal funding. Members regularly go to the state capital and to Washington, D.C., to educate lawmakers on the needs of people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Laurie Booher, owner of Popportunity, is well aware of The Arc. Her popcorn business, in fact, was launched as a way of giving job opportunities to those with disabilities. Plus, she was a member for 10 years of Columbus Service League, which operated the previous chocolate fundraiser here for years.

She will be among the vendors, and probably will sell two kinds of popcorn — one a white chocolate and cherry style, and the other a peanut butter and chocolate flavor.

“It tastes kind of like a peanut butter cup,” Booher said.

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What: Always Ready For Chocolate, a fundraiser featuring chocolate treats and also wines to help The Arc of Bartholomew County, an advocacy organization for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.

Tickets: Advance tickets are $3 per serving (or $4 at the door) and the best value is a $20 ticket, good for eight servings. Tickets can be purchased at The Arc of Bartholomew County, Viewpoint Books or online at an eventbrite site via the Always Ready For Chocolate Facebook page.

Information: Facebook page for Always Ready For Chocolate.