Chocolate Fantasy

A chocolate dessert created by The Flour'd Apron is served at last year's Chocolate Fantasy event. The annual fundraiser for The Arts Center returns for its 29th year Saturday night at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center in Corvallis.  

Contributed photo

Desserts may get the most attention Saturday night at the Chocolate Fantasy, but volunteer chair Beth Rietveld says the event offers more than just sweet goodness.

"This a community-building event, and a celebration of the arts," she said.

The Arts Center's annual fundraiser, which enters its 29th year, will auction artwork by 55 mid-valley artists and offer guests dessert creations from nine chocolate artisans at Oregon State University's CH2M Hill Alumni Center in Corvallis.

Proceeds from the event will support youth art education programs, and provide scholarships for children who can't afford to attend their camps and art classes.

The Arts Center offers high-risk youth art education programs and exhibits in partnerships with Jackson Street Youth Services, Community Outreach Inc., and the Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility.

"We do a lot of programs for kids that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle," Rietveld said. "It helps them to not only be creative and learn more about art, but it gives them self-confidence and improves their communication skills."

The center also has adult art education classes available and supports emerging artists through its new Atelier Program.

The Chocolate Fantasy shows that The Arts Center is more than just an art gallery, Rietveld said.

Silent and live auctions will include dinners, getaways to the coast, tickets to symphony performances, opera and musical performances, and other products and services.

"There are lots of experiences, as well as art items and items from our community businesses," Rietveld said.

One auction item that may stand out is a Kranich & Bach 1869 square grand piano, which belonged to Marion Gathercoal, who founded The Arts Center 55 years ago, Rietveld said.

The evening will feature chocolate confections from Benny's Donuts, Burst's Chocolates, The Flour'd Apron, New Morning Bakery, Historic Old School Cafe, DAM: Determined Art Movement, Little Wuesten German Foods, Mamalou Bakeshop, and Stirs the Soul Chocolates.

Guests will be able to sample each and vote for their favorites.

Hors d'oeuvres, wine, beer and cider will also be served.

Flamenco guitarist Berto Boyd is scheduled to perform during the first hour of the event.

This year's master of ceremonies is John Frohnmayer, former chair of the National Endowment of the Arts.

Rietveld was excited about the addition of Frohnmayer, an  outspoken supporter of the arts.

"It's a real coup to have someone who's been involved in the arts nationally as our master of ceremonies," she said.

Rietveld said the chocolate drew her to attend the event the first few times, though there is plenty to enjoy during the fundraiser.

"Everything about it is just fun, because there is something for everyone," she added.

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