An evening of fun

Minneota’s Chocolate Affair brings community members together

Photo by Deb Gau People mingled while looking over items in a silent auction on Saturday night, during the Chocolate Affair in Minneota. Proceeds from the event will help raise funds for an elevator at the Minneota library, organizers said.

MINNEOTA — It’s an evening of music, fun and homemade sweets — it’s not hard to see why Minneota’s Chocolate Affair draws a crowd every year. But one of the other positive things about the event is the way it brings together area community members, organizers and volunteers say.

With a few minutes to go before the doors officially opened at the Minneota American Legion on Saturday, there was plenty of activity going on. Members of the Route 68 Big Band were warming up. Buffet tables were being set up for the main meal. And behind the scenes, volunteers including members of the Minnesota High School chapter of the National Honor Society were opening containers filled with dozens of candies, brownies and other chocolate goodies.

“So, we’re just bringing these up on platters?” one volunteer asked. Together, volunteers carefully arranged the sweets on trays where they were ready to be served up to guests.

The Chocolate Affair event has been bringing community members together since its beginning.

“I think it must be at least 10 years that we’ve done it,” said Gary Buysse of the Friends of the Minneota Library. The event started out as a fundraiser to renovate the “Big Store” building in Minneota into a new public library. Now, the library is settled in its new home, but the Friends are continuing to raise funds for improvements. Buysse said the new goal was to add an elevator, which would help people get to the Minneota opera house, on the upper floor of the library.

Part of the appeal of the Chocolate affair, Buysse said, was variety.

“It’s a whole evening wrapped in one,” from dinner to dancing, and a silent auction, he said. “There are a lot of things for a lot of people.”

The different components of the event are local, too. Saturday’s event included silent auction items from area donors. The meal was catered by Rusty’s Corner Cafe, of Taunton. The members of the Route 68 Big Band are all area residents, said director John Voit.

Performing at the Chocolate Affair “is kind of a focal point for the band,” Voit said. The group tries to work in some new music each year, he said.

Organizers for the Chocolate Affair start setting up on Friday afternoon, Buysse said. However, planning and preparation for the array of chocolate desserts served up at the event starts earlier.

The Chocolate Affair offers a chance to try out new recipes, said Mary Buysse.

“You think you’re not going to, but you try new things,” she said.

Helping out at the Chocolate Affair was fun, if a little tempting, volunteers said.

“It makes you want to eat it all,” Alex Pohlen joked about arranging the dessert platters.

“There are some pretty good cooks in the area,” Isaac Hennen agreed.