Chocolate Lovers Fling and Art Auction raises over $14,000 to boost tourism

Chocolate confections and local art came together on Feb. 17 for Discover Kodiak’s annual fundraising event. As KMXT’s Brian Venua reports, the local visitor bureau’s auction was raising money to support tourism to the island. 

Attendees tasted several local chocolatey goods pictured here as they bid on photos and paintings from local artists. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

Brock Simmons, the executive director of Discover Kodiak, said midwinter is the perfect time for a big indoor event like this.

“People are looking for places and events to go to this time of year, so I’m glad that Discover Kodiak can be out there and (this can) be a nice event for people to come to get out and have a fun day,” Simmons said. 

The event sold out of tickets just four days after it was announced on Jan. 30, and the bureau lined up 27 items for the live auction and 22 items for its silent auction.

Abbey Harver walked the crowd while displaying items up for bid. The print of a painting behind her by the late Bob Tucker got the crowd especially riled up and sold for $1,600. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

Most of the money will go towards Discover Kodiak’s efforts to boost tourism to the island, but 30% of each sale is given back to the artist who donated the piece.

Simmons said the goal this year is to raise enough money to replace the destination video the bureau’s been using for nearly 20 years.

“You can see the original destination video that Discover Kodiak did back in about 2005,” he said. “We want to update that to 2024, so we’re going to do the new video to kind of just show how things have changed and in better quality and the better drone footage you can get and all those things.” 

In all, Saturday’s event raised $14,355 to pay for the new video. 

Simmons said he hopes that investing in tourism can bring some economic stimulus to the island, particularly as other key local industries are struggling.

“I think that the fishing industry is kind of in a little bit of a wind-down right now and people need to be encouraged that tourism is a renewable resource to get involved in,” he said.

Commercial fisheries is the island’s main resource, but the industry is in a historic rut as several processing companies have announced either closures or listed plants for sale

Saturday was a dark and stormy evening but auction attendees were dressed to the nines for this year’s Roaring 20’s theme. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

Simmons said auction turnout was so good this year, they may host it in the downtown mall to have a bigger space next year. 

For now, Discover Kodiak expects to print its visitor’s guide within the next few months – just in time to prepare for the island’s busiest cruise ship season since the pandemic, expecting 25 ships.

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