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Chocolate Berkshires is coming to town just in time for Valentine's Day

Area Businesses Dipped in Chocolate, Collaboration

By Nichole DupontiBerkshires Staff
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LENOX, Mass. — Area businesses are banding together to add a little kick to winter and the local economy. Next month, more than 22 inns, restaurants and retailers are dipping into Chocolate Berkshires, a month-long event sponsored by the Berkshire Visitor's Bureau. Lindsey Hammond, the Bureau's director of sales and marketing, says Chocolate Berkshires provides an opportunity for local businesses to liven up an otherwise sleepy time in the Berkshires.
"This is a county-wide promotion. There's not a lot going on in February and it's a good way to extend the Valentine's Day season," she said in a phone interview. "This isn't just limited to lodging and restaurants. We want to cast the widest net possible."

Delectable chocolates from the Red Lion Inn.

That net includes the Red Lion Inn, the Berkshire Bach Society, Chocolate Springs, Gypsy Layne burlesque, Qualprint and the Berkshire Historical Society, each of which will include the delectable dessert on their menus, rooms, performances and more. Joshua Needleman, owner and head chocolatier of Chocolate Springs, said that Chocolate Berkshires is the perfect testing ground for future multi-business collaborations.
"The inspiration for this was to see a little more collaboration around Berkshire County," he said. "Chocolate is a great medium to express creativity. Restaurants are making special desserts, there will be screenings of chocolate-themed movies in the county, [and] people are doing artistic pieces. Everybody can really do their own twist on it."
Chocolate martini glasses, chocolate tours and chocolate spa treatments are among the many creations Chocolate Berkshires has inspired. It also may have gotten the ball rolling for future event-based collaborations.

"Let's see if this can get some legs," Hammond said. "We are doing this with no money – no funding. It's sort of been people doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. We all want to get more visitors here. And what a fun way to go out and explore your community and see what's happening in your own backyard. We're going to see how this works."

Collaboration is not the only goal of Chocolate Berkshires. According to Needleman, chocolate provides a more obvious opportunity as well.

"It's the ultimate comfort food," he said. "It's also a neutral item, it's not political, you don't have to pay to be involved. It's fun and hopefully it will be a springboard for other events."

Chocolate Berkshires is still accepting applications for participants. For more information visit its website or Facebook page.

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Lenox Cultural Council Awards Local Grants

LENOX, Mass. — State Representative Smitty Pignatelli and Arlene D. Schiff, chair of the Lenox Cultural Council, announced the award of 26 grants totaling $12,600, for cultural programs in Berkshire County.
"It's the local volunteers who really make this system work," said Smitty Pignatelli. "They make limited resources go as far as possible, and they make the tough decisions about which projects should be supported. Thanks to them, the arts, sciences, and humanities are part of people's everyday lives in every community across the state."
Grants have been awarded to the following programs: Arts in Recovery for Youth; Berkshire Bach Society; Berkshire Children's Chorus Take the Lead! Program; Berkshire Music School 2021 Lenox Loves Music Series; Berkshire Opera Festival' Much Ado About Shakespeare; Berkshire Pulse Dance Outdoors Festival; Berkshire South Regional Community Center's Berkshire Ukulele Band and Sings!; Berkshire Theater Group BTG Plays!; Cantilena Chamber Choir's Outdoor concert series and Talking Choral Music Youtube Channel; Chester Theater Company's 2021 Season; Rob Zammarchi's "Elijah T. Grasshopper & Friends"; Lenox Library's Virtual Winter Children's Concerts; Express Yourself in Pastel and Sketch Your Berkshire Neighborhood; Mass Audubon Berkshire Sanctuaries' Bringing Nature to You;  Music in Common's Berkshires Worldwide; New Stage Performing Arts Center Inc's Rights of Passage: 20/20 Vision; Pittsfield's Shakespeare in the Park 2021 Free Summer Production; SculptureNow IceFire 2022; Sara Campbell's "To Indian Territory and Back Again"; Shakespeare & Company's 2021 Fall Festival of Shakespeare; The Stockbridge Sinfonia 2021 Concert Series; Three of Nine Reading & Discussion of J.D. Salinger Stories;  Trio Candela; WAM Theater and WildFire Sculpture.
The Lenox Cultural Council is part of a network of 329 Local Cultural Councils serving all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. The LCC Program is the largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation, supporting thousands of community-based projects in the arts, sciences, and humanities every year. The state legislature provides an annual appropriation to the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency, which then allocates funds to each community. The Town of Lenox also provided funding to the Lenox Cultural Council for this grant cycle.
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