Event uses sweets to raise money for local high school students

Nov. 13, 2012 @ 12:13 AM

Any Sevier County residents with a sweet tooth might want to check out Sevierville Chamber of Commerce's second annual Sugarfest, where area businesses and civic groups will enter desserts in a competition that benefits dual enrollment students at local high schools.

Sugarfest 2012 will be held today at the River Plantation Conference Center in Sevierville at 5:30 p.m. The event was held in the morning last year, but the chamber decided to change the time to correspond with standard eating habits.

"It was successful last year, but we changed it to an evening event so people could eat dinner and then come by for dessert," said Jim McGill, membership coordinator for the Sevierville Chamber.

Tickets to the event are $7 at the door, and proceeds benefit E.L.F. (Education and Leadership for the Future), a program that donates scholarship money to dual enrollment students in Sevier County. Some of the proceeds will also go towards an emergency fund for certain high school students who need financial help.

"The counselors know their students and know who needs what," McGill said. "There have been students who didn't have the money to buy their cap and gown, so this money went to those students to buy their cap and gown."

The event features a dessert tasting from over 10 different area restaurants and civic groups, some of which have entered more than one dessert for the sampling, and an auction for the title sponsorship for the Sevierville Chamber's annual Membership Breakfast in 2013.

Attendees will be able to place holiday orders for many of the baked goods at Sugarfest, and they will have a chance to vote for their favorite desserts, as well as bid for them in a live auction. McGill said he expects about 20 desserts will be auctioned off, and possibly more.

"Some vendors have said they won't provide samples, but they will have a dessert to auction off," McGill said.

Awards will be given in each division, professional and non-professional, for "The Best of Sugarfest," which is this event's People's Choice award; the "Rollin' in the Dough" award, given to the dessert that raises the most money during the auction; and an award for the best booth decorations.

This year's entries include The Diner's Signature Peanut Butter Pie, cupcakes from Gigi's Cupcakes, Chocolate Chip Cheesecake from Kaitlyn's Kitchen, an assortment of brownies from Team Fudds, Key Lime Creams and Peppermint Bark from The Chocolate Ladies, and Hard Rock Cafe's Warm Apple Cobbler, among others.

But they'll all be competing against last year's crowd favorite: Hungry Bear Cafe's Mountain Dew Cupcakes.

"The Mountain Dew Cake is a different flavor that most people hadn't tried," said Hungry Bear Cafe owner Karen Chambers. "And the Mountain Dew helps it be a moist cake."

The Hungry Bear Cafe is adding Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes to its arsenal this year, and Chambers is hoping to bring in even more money for the scholarship than last year.

"We like the scholarship fund that the event supports," she said. "It's a good thing."