Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Melanie Henderson expects about 10,000 visitors to this year's two-day chocolate show at South Towne Expo Center.

PROVO — Everything chocolate is within easy reach for two days at the Utah Chocolate Show.

A Provo resident is the show's director.

Melanie Henderson concocted the idea of an expo-style chocolate show and coaxed her sisters to co-host.

The first show in 2004 was supposed to fail. Henderson's event manager told her he expected only 1,500 to 2,000. "He said it was like a Cinderella story," she said. "We had 3,000 just the first day!" Attendance has steadily grown, with 10,000 visitors expected this year.

Henderson grew up in Provo with a Finnish-born mother who loved good chocolate.

"My mom thought if it wasn't chocolate, it wasn't candy," Henderson said.

Henderson commands a host of employees and volunteers to manage the multi-faceted sweet affair.

Over 50 chocolate-based vendors sell their wares, with samples for all. Shari Van Dyke, co-owner of Idle Isle Candy, looks forward to it.

"It's good exposure to be a part of the show," said Van Dyke. "It's a fun show. I mean, it's chocolate — it's got to be fun!"

New events have been added this year, and more than $1,200 in prize money is available to contestants in the wedding cake competition and photo contest.

Participants can learn the art of chocolate-making from some of Utah's most famous pastry chefs. (Some classes require online registration.)

Ann Gibson, a chocolate lover from Provo, has helped with the show each year.

"What can you say about chocolate?" Gibson said. "I am a chocoholic."

Funds from the show have benefited suicide prevention, organ donation and Alan Osmond's One Heart charity. This year the partner is the American Heart Association.

"We picked the American Heart Association, specifically their "Go Red for Women" and "Love Your Heart" campaigns because they emphasize the importance of emotional and mental support as it relates to the literal physiological health of the heart," Henderson said.

If you go . . .

What: Utah Chocolate Show

Where: South Towne Exposition Center, Sandy

When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 16-17

Cost: $7 at the door, online: 4 tickets for the price of 3


E-mail: [email protected]