Homewood’s 2018 Chocolate Fest took on an historic flavor in honor of the village’s 125th anniversary. The Homewood Historical Society (HHS) took top honors in the annual chocolate bake-off at the festival on Saturday in the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Auditorium. The organization’s team entered a variation on a treat that was born the same year Homewood was incorporated — the brownie.
Homewood’s 2018 Chocolate Fest took on an historic flavor in honor of the village’s 125th anniversary.
The Homewood Historical Society (HHS) took top honors in the annual chocolate bake-off at the festival on Saturday in the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Auditorium. The organization’s team entered a variation on a treat that was born the same year Homewood was incorporated — the brownie.
Although there are a number of stories about the origin of the brownie, one popular account suggests Bertha Palmer, wife of Chicago hotel magnate Potter Palmer, asked her chefs to come up with a new dessert for the 1893 World Exposition. The brownie was their answer to her call.
The HHS version, “Home Sweet Homewood Brownies,” a marshmallow and chocolate concoction, was made by the organization’s hospitality coordinator, Megan Whelan. She and HHS representatives Elaine Egdorf and Lori Prusinski served samples of the brownies to festival patrons.
Judges awarded second place in the bake-off to Stephanie Ferkula, who represented the Homewood Public Library. Her entry was Oreo truffles with a cream cheese filling.
Diane Gordon of Country Club Hills took third place with her chocolate cupcakes topped with white chocolate ganache.
The bake-off wasn’t HHS’s only presence at the event. The organization sponsored a booth that featured free sweet treats from the era of the village’s founding, including Cracker Jacks, Juicy Fruit gum and Good ‘n Plenty candy.
The booth also featured posters with glimpses into sweet spots in the village’s history, including B.E. Seeley’s grocery store, which once operated in the 1400 block of Ridge Road. The photo prominently shows a sign for “Kendall Ice Cream.”
Another poster featured Twietmeyer’s Dairy Bar, once located in the 2000 block of Ridge Road, where Homewood youngsters got their ice cream until the mid-1950s.
In return for a donation, patrons who wanted to taste the treats prepared by the bake-off participants could fill trays with samples. The donations benefited the Homewood-Flossmoor High School musicians who will be traveling to Germany to perform during spring break. A parent reported the event brought in more than $900 for the orchestra’s trip.
A group of the musicians performed during the festival.
Another education group using the event to raise money and awareness was Foundation 153, which provides support to Homewood School District 153. The foundation sponsored a booth where they sold bottled water and coffee and promoted the organization’s next big fundraiser, the March 10 Fun Fair.
Foundation President Rita Davenport said the organization is raising money to help the district improve classroom technology. She said the foundation has a goal of $40,000 during its spring fundraising campaign.
The event continued to attract people from around the area.
Brigid Wilson came from Chicago with her two children, Zaria, 2 1/2, and Giannis, 5 months old. She said she learned about the event from a notice in “Chicago Parent” magazine.
“It’s great. We’re excited,” she said.
Homewood Events Manager Allisa Opyd said the event, in its 16th year, continues to draw a big crowd.
“It’s amazing how many people love coming to this event,” she said. “They have cabin fever. They want to get out. And who doesn’t love chocolate?”
Opyd noted that one change seemed to have a positive effect on the festival. Children’s activities, that in the past were located in the auditorium along with the bake-off displays and vendors, were moved to the Homewood Science Center across the street.
That move relieved some congestion in the auditorium.
“That definitely helped organize the space,” she said.
One Homewood resident and regular festival attendee, John Giblin, noticed the difference.
“I think it’s more organized this year,” he said.
Jim Giblin, also of Homewood, said he liked attending the event every year.
“It’s a nice place to socialize,” he said.