Main Street Portsmouth and over 30 businesses are preparing for the annual Ellen Vetter Chocolate Walk, which is set for February 9.
The annual celebration is in its tenth year, which was started by the namesake Ellen Vetter, as well as Promotions Committee Chairwoman of the time Laurel DeAtley. It has continued its goal of bringing people downtown to enjoy the local businesses, as they pick up sweet treats along the way. “This event has continued to be one of our favorites, as tickets sell out very quickly each year,” Main Street Portsmouth Executive Director Joseph Pratt said. “Additionally, while the chocolate walk fad has crossed most cities in Ohio, our walk continues to be one of the largest and most affordable for guests.”
While it can be a huge ordeal for businesses to prepare for 400 guests, Pratt said everyone who participates has a great time.
“Businesses can really get into it. Last year, the Happy Pot was on everyone’s minds after Cinnamon did a very detailed treat themed around her pottery store. Also, newcomer Salon on Second was adored for their beautiful presentation. Over 30 businesses participate and say the day is a great way to show off their stores to members of the community,” Pratt explained. The Happy Pot is planning another fun attempt this year.
“The chocolate walk is an exciting and unique time,” Happy Pot owner Cinamon Wellington said. “It is a great way for people to get out and walk downtown, see the shops and restaurants, and enjoy themselves in a fun way. We love really getting into it at The Happy Pot, too, because it is another avenue for us to explore our creativity.”
Not only do restaurants and shops participate, but many other downtowners jump into the fun, including agencies and salons.
“Salon on Second is always excited to participate in downtown events and causes,” Salon owner Alisha Davis Flaig said. “We love being a big part of the downtown, and being one of the reasons why so many people make trips to our historic district. The Chocolate Walk is a great way for people to see how beautiful our shop is and learn what services we provide, while also giving us a chance to give back to the guests and people who care about downtown as well.”
The walk always begins at Port City Café and Pub, at 11 a.m., where guests check in and receive a map of participating businesses, as well as a handy Shawnee State University bag to store any treats they don’t want to eat the day of the event.
Guests then have the remainder of the business day to walk through downtown, tasting chocolates and more along the way.
After years of requests, Main Street is also testing the waters with a new premium ticket feature, which will include treats at stops outside of the downtown as well. “While it certainly won’t be a walkable section of the event, more along the lines of a hop, but we have had people asking about including other area cornerstones as well so we want to test it out,” Pratt said. “We think it could lend itself to extra stops and more fun, so we decided to have 100 of the tickets include premium stops. So, people who have those tickets will be able to visit all of downtown participants and the extra stops as well.”
Pratt also said the walk is celebrating ten years with a t-shirt for the walk. It is a modern and stylish design that features the namesake of Ellen Vetter’s legacy, “B Sweete Chocolataire,” the chocolate shop that started it all.
“People are excited about the shirts, because they look nice and they honor such a wonderful woman, who impacted the downtown in great ways,” Pratt said. “We are striving to keep her memory alive with this walk. Co-founder of Main Street, Sue Burke, continues the work they started year after year and we collectively look for ways to grow the walk that she started. Luke Zaph at the brewery has been working on a special chocolate beer that they will serve this year and we are even looking into working with them to create a brew that is dedicated to Ellen and the chocolate walk itself come next year. We just keep looking for ways to make it special so people continue to enjoy it for many more years to come.”