Nora Durand, left, and Pacific NorthWest Art School Director Lisa Bernhardt are planning Story Slams, a competitive storytelling event, during this year’s Chocolate Walk. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Nora Durand, left, and Pacific NorthWest Art School Director Lisa Bernhardt are planning Story Slams, a competitive storytelling event, during this year’s Chocolate Walk. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Chocolate Walk to feature storytelling competition

In addition to the rich flavor derived from the delectable cocoa bean, this year’s Coupeville Chocolate Walk will also feature a sweet treat for the ears.

Visitors on the journey through 22 participating businesses in Central Whidbey’s historic town will have the opportunity to warm up at Pacific NorthWest Art School with hot chocolate and to participate in or watch “Story Slams.”

The open mic storytelling competition will focus on the seasonally appropriate topic, love. The slam will begin at 3:30 p.m., Feb. 8 and is free to watch and costs $15 to participate in. Registration will be at the door and fees go toward the nonprofit art school.

Storytellers will have five minutes to spin a yarn about love, which can be interpreted broadly, according to Nora Durand, who came up with the idea for the event. The Coupeville resident hails from Kentucky and had frequented storytelling festivals there growing up.

She’d recently been troubled by divisions she saw among others in the community regarding issues such as jet noise, she said.

“I thought why not do an event where people can come and tell a story,” she said, “so we can open up and get to know people.”

She approached the art school’s director Lisa Bernhardt with the idea and so the Chocolate Walk’s first Story Slam came to be.

There will be different age categories for storyteller, Durand said, and division’s winner, chosen by the audience, will receive a prize.

Lavender Wind will hand out hand-made chocolate walnut bites at this year’s Coupeville Chocolate Walk. Photo provided

Lavender Wind will hand out hand-made chocolate walnut bites at this year’s Coupeville Chocolate Walk. Photo provided

To those participating, Durand recommends using humor, descriptive language and tempo to draw audiences in and keep them engaged. Notes are not allowed.

Durand had been involved in previous Chocolate Walks when she was working at the Whidbey News-Times, which co-sponsors the event each year with the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce.

Tickets are $25 and available on the chamber’s website; the event often sells out.

Those who managed to get a golden ticket will begin at Chocolate Central, open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Coupeville Rec Hall. Hot cocoa will be served as walkers pick up a map and goody bag.

“It’s a lot of fun for the people buying tickets to come and enjoy Coupeville,” Chamber Director Lynda Eccles said.

Businesses have obtained fine delicacies from local chocolatiers or made the treats themselves, such as chocolate walnut bites from Lavender Wind, infused with the shop’s signature herb.

For Durand, her love of dark chocolate will play a role in her example story for the Story Slam. She’ll focus on the Sanskrit word for heart chakra, she said, which is yam, often pronounced yum.

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