Taste sweets and more in Hill City

By Jeff Smith

Nikki Ball, manager of TurtleTown in Hill City, prepares for Tour de Chocolate by putting syrup on chocolate hearts.

An assortment of chocolates will be available in Hill City area businesses on Feb. 10 for the annual Tour de Chocolate event.

Many shops will give away some chocolate treats.  As of Feb. 2, 11 businesses were signed up to participate in Tour de Chocolate.

Nikki Ball, manager of Hill City TurtleTown and coordinator of the event, has been making preparations for the Tour de Chocolate event and Valentine’s Day with her co-worker Jennifer Tecklenburg. Around 200 gift bags are going to be made for the event.

Ball said Tour de Chocolate is about merchants giving treats to customers and running specials to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Ball expects to see a sizable amount of traffic this weekend and then the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. Ball has never participated in the event but said that she is looking forward to it.

“Everybody likes chocolate,” she said. “It’s nice to give people something sweet while they are shopping.”

Some of the stores ordered 60-100 items for the event.

New businesses that are participating are Doc & Alice and the Mountain Store.

On Feb. 2, Ball and Tecklenburg were making chocolate hearts, putting together chocolate gift bags to give to stores and making pre-made boxes for Valentine’s Day.

In addition to the chocolate hearts there are chocolate-dipped pretzels, oreos, truffles and chocolate-dipped cherries that will be available at the stores.

Ball said they started making the chocolate hearts two weeks ago.

“One business ordered 700 and we’ve been making them for ourselves,” she said.

The cherries get made the day before the event so that they stay fresh.

“A lot of stores do make their own goodies,”  Ball said.

“The Tour de Chocolate, hosted each year by our Hill City businesses and downtown merchants, is a great way to begin celebrating the Valentine’s Day holiday a little early,” said Hill City Area Chamber Director Janet Wetovick-Bily.  “Plus, it’s a day of  food and family fun, too with the Polar Bear Chili Cook-off and Minnow Races sponsored by the Tin City Masonic Lodge #112.”

Wetovick-Bily added that Hill City is known for having great events —“something good is happening all the time.”

The pre-made boxes that TurtleTown has contain a mix of the shop’s different chocolates.

Some of the boxes feature more truffles that women seem to prefer and some boxes have more caramel that men prefer.

This year there are some new truffle flavors.

“We have the tuxedo which is a dark chocolate with a creamy white outside. We have birthday cake with sprinkles, kids love it,  and salted caramel truffle,” Ball said.

Altogether, TurtleTown has 18 different kinds of truffles.

Ball said a lot of stores have good gift ideas for Valentine’s Day and somebody will be able to  find something they like.

Tour de Chocolate will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 10.