Law, Love and Chocolate proved to be a winning combination at the Canton Club Event Center on Thursday evening as guests enjoyed specialties offered by celebrity chocolatiers. The event was sponsored by the Akron Law Alumni Association and Stark County Bar Association to benefit the ArtsinStark SmArts Grants Program.
Stark County Common Pleas Judge Taryn Heath, who founded the event four years ago, greeted 300 guests with a champagne toast. Honorary chair Lee Plakas was busy at his booth with Judge Scott Gwin serving peanut butter and jelly truffles.
Debbie Coyle sold an armful of raffle tickets for jewelry and other gifts made by local artists. Sydnie and David Ferrell bid on a jeweled bracelet, while Justin Workman sold wine corks, which could be traded for a bottle of wine. Looking over the silent auction were Kristi Harmon and her dad, Glen Harmon, Kristen Guardado, Jim Babcock, John Guia, Lisa Williams, Ron Dougherty, Jay and Sherry Groom, Eugene and Apple Roytberg, Tom Winkhart and Elizabeth Reilly, interim dean of the University of Akron School of Law.
The Canton Club served a chocolate-infused buffet, while “Saxy” Rob Thompson offered entertainment. Ali Frantz liked the candied pecan salad with chocolate barbecue dressing; Jessica and David Ciccarelli enjoyed the cocoa-crusted scallops; while Joe Martuccio recommended the grilled steak with chocolate sauce and sweet potato puree.
Upstairs, desserts were waiting. Chryssa Hartnett baked the double chocolate baklava she served along with John Ferraro. Judge Rosemarie Hall offered double chocolate brownies; Judges Kristin Farmer and Curt Werren had brownie bites with Mayan-spiced chocolate sauce; and Judge Robert Lavery served chocolate-covered strawberries. Judge John Wise recommended the double caramel cheesecake; Judge Bill Hoffman and Natalie Haupt served dulce de leche cupcakes; and Dick Kuhn served Bailey’s Irish Cream mousse.
“This is like heaven to me,” said Robb Hankins, director of ArtsinStark as he surveyed the chocolate scene. He thanked the group for supporting the SmArts program, which integrates the arts and academics. In the last six years, the ArtsinStark program has invested $350,000 in 50 county schools, benefiting 15,000 students, Hankins said.
Randy Compton conducted the live auction of artwork, assisted by celebrity auctioneer Judge Richard Reinbold Jr.