SANTA CRUZ -- More than 800 people turned out for the 6th annual Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival at the Cocoanut Grove Sunday, turning a love of everything chocolate into scholarships for re-entry students at UC Santa Cruz.
A representative of the UCSC Women's Club, which organizes the event, said they hoped the event would raise about $15,000 for scholarships.
The festival offered six samples of chocolate for $15 and crowds milled about Sunday trying chocolate toffee, truffles and things such as chocolate-covered coconut curry cashew candies.
Other creations included a balsamic chocolate ganache and brie atop poached pear crostini by Lifestyle Culinary Arts of Santa Cruz and a Seattle-based company called Theo that claims to be the only one in the nation creating chocolate "from bean to bar" with organic, fair trade cocoa.
Lead organizer Ann Berry-Kline said the festival added wine tasting for the first time this year and that about half of the 38 vendors were new. They included several area chocolatiers, as well as ice cream makers and others.
"It's been amazing; it's going really well," said Berry-Kline, a realtor with Bailey Properties. "We've got lots of great stuff."
A new confectioner, Boulder Creek Candy, made their debut at the festival, selling mostly chocolate-covered caramels.
Jackie Young of Boulder Creek had a box of their chocolates under her arm, saying she wanted to support the new business. She also
"We're really here to support the UCSC re-entry program," Young said. "This is a great gathering of local talent. It was very enjoyable."
The event also included naming of the Chocoholic of the Year -- festival founder Lorraine Margon of Santa Cruz.
Margon's husband, Bruce, is vice chancellor of research at UCSC. The couple moved to Santa Cruz from Maryland not long before she agreed to organize a new fundraiser, Margon said. She said she had her doubts about whether she could pull it off, especially since she was new in town.
But Joe Marini of Marini's Candies was the first to agree to participate, giving her a verbal promise he made good on, and others followed, she said.
It has become a great fundraiser that has also brought the Women's Club closer together, Margon said.
"I'm happy to see it going strong," she said. "I didn't realize how open Santa Cruz would be to a new festival. And it's a great cause. A lot of students fall through the cracks and need help with summer tuition or childcare or a new laptop."
Larry Mosely of Scotts Valley attended with his wife, Becca, and some friends.
"It's wonderful," he said. "I had a lot of fun. I tasted a lot of chocolate and decorated a cupcake."
And ate it, his wife chimed in.
Mosely smiled and gave a nod.
Follow Sentinel reporter Cathy Kelly on Twitter at Twitter.com/cathykelly9