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February 23, 2018

KAYLA BREESE/River NewsPatrons sample chocolate scrubs at Blue Davenport in downtown Rhinelander Friday as part of the 11th annual Taste of Chocolate event. Despite cold temperatures, organizers were pleased with the turnout.

Patrons sample chocolate scrubs at Blue Davenport in downtown Rhinelander Friday as part of the 11th annual Taste of Chocolate event. Despite cold temperatures, organizers were pleased with the turnout.
2/13/2018 7:30:00 AM
Crowds brave cold for 'Taste of Chocolate'

Kayla Breese
Feature Writer

Sweets and bargains were in good supply Friday evening during the 11th annual Taste of Chocolate event in downtown Rhinelander.

Businesses offered sweet treats and drinks ranging from chocolate martinis to sweet and salty chocolate-covered bacon to chocolate-covered strawberries and more.

"I think it was amazingly a success, lots of people on the streets," said Rhonda Jicinsky, co-owner of CT's Deli and project coordinator for the event.

"It's huge for downtown Rhinelander because we are in a rebuilding phase so it's great to see people come and find our stores that are opening."

While bustling around the packed CT's Deli, Jicinsky said she heard some nice comments about peoples' discoveries.

"I heard people walking the streets saying 'Oh, that's where they moved to, I didn't know they were there,' 'Here's a new one,'" Jicinsky said, adding that she also heard positive comments about CT's Deli's chocolate-covered bacon, the pudding shot with crust at Imaginuity and the Texas cake at Mel's, for example.

Jason Stritesky enjoyed his first time attending the Taste of Chocolate.

"It's been worth it so far," he said.

There were some businesses on the list that he and his wife had never visited, he added.

"I think it's good, it gets people out and about, especially this time of year, (it's) something to do and showcases what's here," he said, adding that the sweets are a nice draw for the event.

"For my wife it would be the chocolate and for myself, yeah the chocolate and some of the alcohol that's involved," Stritesky said, explaining what prompted him to attend the event.

"Chocolate is my draw, anything with chocolate," Cari Stritesky, Jason's wife, added.

"I'm interested in going back to the Rhinelander store for the chocolate bunny stout cake," she added.

Stritesky said she thinks this event is really important for Rhinelander.

"I think it really draws people to the businesses and I think it's really just a great thing for Rhinelander," she said.

Theresa Lassig said she discovered new businesses during her second time at Taste of Chocolate.

"I think it's great, it's fun to get out," she said. "I think it's awesome that it gets people like me who come into these stores that they've never been into before and see what great things they have."

Mary-Jo Swearingen, owner of Denim and Leather Exchange, was pleased with the foot traffic.

"Very good turnout, everybody is having a good time, even though the cold weather doesn't scare them away from this, they come out," she said.

Swearingen said she enjoyed mingling with the crowd and literally saw a bus drop off passengers at the event.

"It's nice to get people out, come out of the house and into the downtown and everybody looks forward to it," Swearingen said. "I saw a busload unpack earlier."

Swearingen also said she was hearing from people who were discovering their new favorite store or restaurant and that's what the event is about.

"It's positive, nobody ever complains, everybody is always having a good time," she said.

Swearingen is thankful for everyone's effort in making Taste of Chocolate possibile.

"I appreciate all the work that people put into getting this going and the support that we get from everybody," she said.

Businesses participating in Taste of Chocolate were: 13 Gifts, Artstart, Bath and Body Creations & Coffeehaus, Bling on Brown, Blue Davenport, Brown Street 151, Big Daddy's, Bucketheads, CT's Deli, Diane's Frame Shoppe, Festive Frog, Flanders Realty Group, Forth Floral, Fun Factory Sweet Shoppe, Headwaters Christian Youth/Calvary Baptist, Holiday Acres Resort, Imaginuity, Kids Corner Pizza, Kids Impacting our Neighborhood, Knight Gallery, Lattitudes, Mel's Trading Post, Northland Music, Oaktree Boutique, Pat's Tavern, Rhinelander Brewing Company, Rhinelander Café & Pub, Rhinelander Furniture and Mattress, Subway, Unique Creations, Tricia's Treasures and Trig's Floral.

Kayla Breese may be reached at

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