On a bright and sunny February afternoon, locals and visitors alike filled the Historic Canton Theatre to check in for the 2024 Chocolate Walk in Downtown Canton. Much like a family-friendly version of a pub crawl, the 2024 Chocolate Walk featured thirty stops throughout Downtown Canton, each serving its own spin on a sweet treat.

Photo Credit: Abigail Hayman/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine; How Sweet It Is in Downtown Canton

The Historic Canton Theatre decorated in fun pink and red decorations for the 2024 Chocolate Walk.

The colorful display at the Historic Canton Theatre was accompanied by warm, inviting faces at the check-in counter, along with a photo-op and treats from local chocolatier Benita “Chef Bee” Goodall, owner of Chateau Bee Green at Shugah Bee Cottage. She offered a selection of chocolates for guests, including caramel, toffee, and strawberry-flavored treats perfect for tasting freshly-made chocolate.

The historic venue has welcomed visitors since 1911 when the theatre showed silent films to its audiences. “Our theatre has undergone many changes, different names—like ‘The Bonita’ and ‘The Haven’—and even a complete restoration in the 2000s. In the 1940s and 1950s, the building was named the Historic Canton Theatre, and it’s been that way ever since,” says Kristin Norton Green, Historic Canton Theatre’s Theatre Events and Facilities Director.

Photo Credit: Abigail Hayman/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine; How Sweet It Is in Downtown Canton

Benita “Chef Bee” Goodall from Chateau Bee Green greeted attendees with a smile and the first chocolate sampling of the day.

Serving Up Locally Made Goodness

Spearheaded by the Canton Main Street Program, the 2024 Chocolate Walk had a lot of success and a positive outcome for locally-owned businesses. Sales for the businesses went up by an estimated 60 percent, bringing in a variety of attendees from Canton and surrounding communities, including Woodstock, Ball Ground, Blue Ridge, and Jasper. This allowed attendees, from near and far, to explore what makes Downtown Canton so great.

“It was a sold-out with over 300 attendees of all ages, who all loved the trick-or-treating type feel,” says Downtown Development Manager Velinda Hardy.

Photo Credit: Abigail Hayman/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine; How Sweet It Is in Downtown Canton

Velinda Hardy, dressed in pink, greets attendees at the event.

“Each restaurant had a different chocolate treat. There were specialty chocolate drinks offered at many of the restaurants as well. Restaurants were open that day for lunch so that attendees could enjoy the Downtown Canton area, its shops, and restaurants,” she continues. “Choate BBQ even offered a tasty chocolate-covered bacon snack and kept their restaurant open that Saturday—which is not [usually] open that day. Many attendees who had not visited Choate BBQ before wanted to return.” Each attendee’s ticket included a 10 percent off Choate BBQ coupon so guests could return to the barbecue restaurant for more.

Chocolate-Inspired Creations

Andy Palermo, co-owner of P.O.P.S. (Palermo’s Original Pasta & Sandwiches), a family-owned restaurant offering tasty Italian-American cuisine in the newly-renovated historic Jones Building, is grateful for the 2024 Chocolate Walk and for the chance to share P.O.P.S.’s signature cocktail that day—the Cab Driver—a frozen coffee drink featuring espresso and chocolate liqueur.

“We opened a month ago, and this was our first experience with a Downtown Canton event. We were open for lunch that day, and it brought a ton of folks to P.O.P.S. and Downtown Canton. We were running around like crazy— we were so busy,” he shares with a laugh.

Photo Credit: Abigail Hayman/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine; How Sweet It Is in Downtown Canton

P.O.P.S. co-owner Andy Palermo poses with his two children, Augustine and Agnes.

“We knew we’d expect a higher volume but didn’t know what to expect. The turnout was a great way to showcase who we are as a restaurant and what we are all about. We should be so lucky to be blessed with good weather like that every February for the Chocolate Walk,” Andy says. “And it didn’t hurt that registration was right across the street from us at the Historic Canton Theatre. That was great exposure for our restaurant.”

Also sharing a fun, chocolate-inspired creation was The Holler, a popular bar and restaurant on West Main Street owned by Gordy Faulmann and Jeff Hagadone. The Holler’s chocolate stout is great for those over 21 who want to feel nostalgic about a family-friendly treat, and for anyone needing a refreshing adult beverage.

Photo Credit: Abigail Hayman/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine; How Sweet It Is in Downtown Canton

Gordy Faulmann (pictured) and Jeff Hagadone opened the doors to one of Canton’s newest hot spots, The Holler, for adult attendees to enjoy a Chocolate Stout offering.

Sharing Heritage Through Chocolate

Ellie Hetrick is the proud owner of one of Downtown Canton’s hottest new hair salons, The Golden Swan Salon. This booth-renting salon allows Ellie to rent booths to local stylists, encouraging business growth in the Canton community.

“I named this salon after my grandmother’s book called The Golden Swan. It’s featured in our salon and can be found around our building,” she smiles. “I’ve also carried family traditions through our salon’s name and our featured chocolate: kladdkaka, a Swedish treat. My family is Scandinavian, but my husband’s grandmother is Swedish, so we’ve tried to uphold her traditions through the holidays. I’ve always done things according to that culture because of her. I looked up a chocolate Swedish tradition, baked it in advance, loved it, and decided to share it with our visitors for the Chocolate Walk.” A kladdkaka is a Swedish sticky chocolate cake known for its crisp outside layers and delightfully gooey chocolate filling.

Photo Credit: Abigail Hayman/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine; How Sweet It Is in Downtown Canton

Ellie Hetrick, owner of The Golden Swan Salon, smiles next to her display of homemade chocolates.

Ellie was grateful for the positive outcome of the Downtown Canton event. “It was amazing to be a part of our first community event—a family-friendly event—and it was wonderful to see people of all ages gather together through food,” she said. “We had many children walk in, and some even brought their friends.”

Chocolatey Fun at The Mill on Etowah

In addition to exploring the shops of Downtown Canton’s Main Street and North Street, attendees flocked to The Mill on Etowah for even more shopping, treats, and beautiful scenery.

Perfect for folks with a sweet tooth, the Cotton Mill Exchange featured fresh chocolate-dipped cookies from Alpine Bakery for the shop’s tasty dessert. Husband-and-wife team Steve and Lori Sinatra are the proud co-owners of the Cotton Mill Exchange, known for its Southern flair, clothes, jewelry, and vintage decor. “We had a lot of people come into our shop for the Chocolate Walk. It really benefited our store and our sales,” Lori says.

Sweety’s Café and Ice Cream, known for its sweet ice cream, cakes, tea parties, and chicken salad varieties, offered a chocolate-rum cake for the café’s Chocolate Walk treat. “It was a good day! We had a lot of people that came in that hadn’t visited with us before,” Cheryl Lott, co-owner of Sweety’s, says with a bright smile. “Some visited from Woodstock and we had a few people visit from out of town, too. We hope to see some new faces next time and encourage visitors to continue visiting The Mill on Etowah.”

Photo Credit: Abigail Hayman/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine

Cheryl Lott

Cheryl also shares that many visitors were surprised to learn that the café’s menu includes chicken salads. “Our original chicken salads and ice cream are prepared fresh each week with organic and healthy ingredients,” Cheryl says.

Engaging the Community

Throughout the afternoon and into the evening, attendees sampled treats from the various chocolate stops and spent time together as a community. As the sun beamed on Canton, so did many of the cheerful attendees.

Madison Maker, Cherokee County resident and Chocolate Walk attendee, shares her appreciation for the local event: “This event has been awesome! I’ve loved seeing how each restaurant did their own take on a chocolate treat—-how each one was so unique,” Madison says. “I feel like I’ve been able to discover a lot more Cherokee-owned restaurants than I have in the past. This is a great way to learn more about our beautiful town and connect with the local community.”

Photo Credit: Abigail Hayman/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine; How Sweet It Is in Downtown Canton

Cherokee County resident Madison Maker poses in front of the 2024 Chocolate Walk sign in front of the iconic gazebo in Canton’s Cannon Park.

 

 

 

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