ALTON —The 18th annual Chocolate Festival sponsored by the Christian Ringers Handbell Choir from the Upper Alton Baptist Church will be 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15, at the church, 2726 College Ave. in Upper Alton.
The event has drawn repeat visits from chocolate lovers over the years, and this year organizers hope to see many former guests as well as many folks who have not yet sampled the delightful chocolate morsels made by members of the bell choir. The festival is one of three annual events given by the choir to raise funds for music and equipment, the other two events being the annual Christmas and spring concerts.
Admission is $5 for all-you-can-eat chocolate. Children younger than 5 will be admitted free; there will be no carry-outs. There will be a raffle for a handmade natural fur teddy bear. Raffle tickets will be $1 each or six tickets for $5. Drawing for the winning ticket will be held at 4 p.m., the winner need not be present at time of the drawing.
The Handbell Choir was started at the Upper Alton Baptist Church in 1970 when two octaves of handbells were donated by a member of the congregation. The choir has grown over the years to ring five octaves of bells and three octaves of hand chimes. The group has performed at many community events and has performed abroad on three European concert tours. It was for the first of these tours that the Chocolate Festival was presented as a fundraiser and it proved to be so successful that the choir has repeated it over the years.
Each of the annual concerts the group performs features other soloists or performing groups. This year’s Spring Concert will be held Saturday, May 30, with vocalist Bob Ellison, Afro-American soloist from O’Fallon, Ill., who will dazzle the audience with his vocal presentations both sacred and secular.