SMRC Chocolate Lovers

Revelers at a previous Fling enjoy the entertainment onstage. (Courtesy photo)

Will there be a flowing fountain of dark chocolate fondue? Hazelnut chocolate mousse crowned with crème chantilly? Perhaps decadent flourless chocolate cakes drizzled with berry coulis? 

If you’re not drooling yet, you can be on Saturday night at this year’s Chocolate Lovers’ Fling, the largest annual fundraiser for the San Miguel Resource Center (SMRC). General admission costs $65, while Outlaw VIP tickets go at $150, and include free drinks, a private reception and first dibs on chocolate.

Held at the Sheridan Opera House, this year’s bash is sure to be a real barn-burner, with a Wild West theme, decor provided by New Leaf Design and A Studio, live music, a professional line dancer to spruce up your moves, and, of course, the requisite amounts of chocolate. That is to say: There will be bountiful bonbons, ganache galore and copious cocoa confections. And as if that isn’t enough, all proceeds from the event go directly to fund the services provided by SMRC, which supports survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, and ultimately seeks to end domestic and sexual violence in our communities.

“The San Miguel Resource Center empowers and advocates for individuals affected by domestic violence and sexual assault through intervention and supportive services, while promoting social change through prevention education and community awareness,” explained Ana Bowling, the Fling’s organizer and SMRC board member. “The Fling is the perfect way to support the SMRC while having fun tasting chocolate and dancing the night away.”

In the service of dancing the night away, the Arizona-based country western band Young Country will turn up the heat onstage with both modern and classic country hits, while adding plenty of their own guitar riffs and vocal twang. A professional line dancer will be on hand to teach the crowd some new moves in the spirit of the Wild West get-down. And as fuel for all that boot-stompin’, this year, six local chefs have been invited to put their culinary creativity to the test by whipping up unique chocolate delights to tantalize taste buds in hopes of winning the people’s choice award.

“Each chef will create chocolates and their display inspired by the Wild West theme,” Bowling said. “Each chef makes 350 small bites for guests to enjoy and then vote for their favorite. The winning team will be announced live at the event.”

For those interested in supporting SMRC by purchasing Outlaw tickets, guests are invited to attend a special reception before the Fling at 7 p.m., with cheese and charcuterie plates donated by Over the Moon, and chocolate treats provided by Cali G, winner of last year’s chocolate competition. The funds raised by the Outlaw tickets will go specifically to ensuring that survivors have access to mental health services such as therapy sessions.

“Everyone responds to trauma differently, but many of our clients find therapy to be a helpful part of their healing process,” said Riley McIntyre, SMRC executive director. “Unfortunately, accessing affordable mental health care can be difficult. We try to reduce this barrier by paying for six sessions of therapy. During 2019 we spent nearly double our budget for therapy because we do not believe in turning survivors away.”

While raising funds to support those directly affected by domestic violence and sexual assault is an important impetus, the event, as well as the general mission of SMRC, also aims to eradicate these pervasive crimes by providing education and awareness to the community at large.

“During our VIP reception, we will be shining a light on human trafficking through the experience of survivors of labor trafficking,” McIntyre said. “This is a crime that is hugely underreported, and there are many misconceptions that surround trafficking. Many people have an image of sex trafficking from the movies and assume communities like Telluride are not affected by this issue. However, labor trafficking is far more common and does occur in our community. The Fling provides an opportunity to spread the message to a broader audience while also raising crucial funds to provide services to these survivors.”

Now don your best Western finery and prepare to indulge your sweet tooth, all in the name of an important social cause.

Tickets can be purchased at smrcco.org.