By Sarah Elmquist Squires
When the words “There will be frog flinging” left Madalyne Middour’s lips, they were followed by a caveat – we won’t be using real frogs. But still, the panel of organizers planning for the second annual Chocolate Affair were a bit stunned. When you add it to the mix of “inflatable paintball obstacle course with Nerf guns,” “freeze tag,” “duck pond,” and, of course, “chocolate,” it’s really all par for the course. Although it’s just the second year running for the Soroptimists’ fundraiser, this year’s Chocolate Affair will boast one of the biggest family fun events you’ll find in the region.
The fundraiser will again include local chocolatiers vying for votes for the favorite sweet treat of the day, it will also include a gigantic kids’ carnival boasting 30 games and activities. That “inflatable paintball obstacle course” will be used with Nerf guns for a wild interactive course, and there will be everything from skee ball to a Plinko game. For each game, kids will earn raffle tickets, with raffle items including an electric scooter, a gaming headset, and Bluetooth earbuds.
Even the littlest kids will have fun activities at the event, and if children need a little break from the festivities, they’ll be a spot to kick back and watch a movie, too. “We’ve got something for everybody,” Middour explained.
Although A Chocolate Affair won the “Best of the Best” award for best fundraiser for its first year ever, organizers listened carefully to feedback about what they could do to make it even better this year. The event will be held at the Fremont County Fairgrounds, providing more space for the many activities for both young and old. Silent auction items this year feature all kinds of exciting packages, from a fancy grill to an outdoor gazebo and greenhouse, to more “experience” types of prizes, like a whitewater rafting trip, University of Wyoming football tickets, to items from the “Yellowstone” TV series shop.
Not to mention: The chocolate.
A dozen chocolate artists have signed on to compete for the best creation, which will be determined by voting from attendees who get to sample the treats. Two culinary students from CWC’s Jackson campus will be competing, and the favorite “chipotle chocolate” from last year will return, as well. Each adult ticket comes with five voting cards, and VIP tickets (sorry, they’re sold out) come with 15 each. Kids get sampling cards with five raffle tickets, and they can earn even more raffle tickets from the carnival games.
The event has been carefully planned and orchestrated to include something fun for everyone, and while it might be families’ newest favorite outing in Fremont County, the energy behind organizers’ hard work is tied closely to the heart of the mission of A Chocolate Affair. The event raises money for the local chapter of Soroptimists, a global organization focused on providing women and girls access to the education and training they need to thrive.
“We want to make sure we are helping women who are heads of households,” Middour explained. The organization’s Live Your Dreams program is one of its biggest, and provides women scholarships to help them achieve their dreams. “For a lot of these ladies, something happens in their life and they put their education on hold, and then they find themselves in a low paying job … and it’s not enough money to survive and support them and their families. Education is key to that.”
This year, that was the case for first-place Life Your Dream award winner Riley Zgurich of Lander. The mother of three told the audience at her awards ceremony that, “As a single mom working entry-level jobs, I was eager to make something of myself,” adding, “It has not always been easy.” The $1,000 scholarship through the program is now helping Zgurich work toward her B.A.S. in marketing from Central Wyoming College.
It’s stories like Zgurich’s, and the help the Soroptimists give to women looking to better their lives, that drives the all the work that goes into A Chocolate Affair. “Soroptimists is all about what’s best for women and girls,” Middour said. “The Live Your Dream Awards is really what this fundraiser is for.”
A Chocolate Affair will be held this Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets, and carnival wrist bands, are available at the door, and tickets may also be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-a-chocolate-affair-in-fremont-county-tickets-477623523817.
Soroptimist International of Riverton is a tax-exempt nonprofit, and donations are tax-deductible (EIN: 83-6016092). Donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 1182, Riverton, WY 82501. Regular meetings are held twice monthly, September through May, with a modified summer schedule. If you’d like to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Middour at 307-349-4914.