Chocolate Festival returns to Norman

Mar. 22—Norman's sweetest festival is making its comeback.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 30, the Norman PTA Council will host the annual Norman Chocolate Festival at the NOUN Hotel. Chocolate Festival co-chair Aisha Ali said the while the concept is still the same, the Council is hoping to make small changes to bring the festival back to its roots.

"The premise of it over time has changed a lot," Ali said. "So we have been working really hard to bring back the concept of the art and try to find only local vendors."

Ali said they have 17 vendors so far but are hoping more will sign up. One of the ways they are hoping to get more vendors is by offering support to the businesses that want to participate.

"I asked a vendor if it would help if we had a volunteer run their booth," Ali said. "Now I am following up with phone calls to each vendor and they are like, 'Yes, could you'? The vendors don't pay a fee, but the biggest thing they are paying for is the employee and for the samples. And that is a lot for them to do."

Ali hopes the offered help will convince more vendors to sign up and to take some stress off of vendors already committed to the event.

"A lot of the vendors take it so seriously," Ali said. "It is a baby to a lot of them. It's dear to their hearts. They want to do it right."

All proceeds from the event go towards helping fund scholarships and grants that directly benefit Norman Public Schools students and teachers.

"I would say 98 percent of our operations budget goes back into student scholarships," Ali said. "The money goes to supports students in the classroom and student scholarships"

Ali said she hopes by having more local vendors at the festival will make people aware of the variety of the variety of businesses in Norman.

"We really want to work hard in 2024 and into 2025 to celebrate these business," Ali said. "We have to work really hard to make sure we are using there services. So we are going be planning ways to make sure they all have information about their businesses out there."

"Some of these places are in Norman and people do not know about them," Ali said. 'That's what we are hoping happens is that people find out that there are these hidden gems in Norman."

The Norman PTA Council is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization chartered under the Oklahoma state and National PTA.

The mission of the PTA is three-fold: to support and speak on behalf of children and youth in the schools, to assist parents in developing the skills they need to raise and protect their children; and, to encourage parent and public involvement in the public schools of this nation.