Hannibal Chocolate Extravaganza turnout increased despite higher gas prices
HANNIBAL (WGEM) - A special event brought tourists to Hannibal over the weekend.
Even with rising gas prices, visitors from around the country traveled to the 12th annual Chocolate Extravaganza, an event to kick off tourist season in Hannibal.
The idea is to get tourists to purchase passports that come with tickets. Those tickets act as a currency for participants to purchase and enjoy sweets, treats, and other retail items while also bringing business to Hannibal.
Organizers said this has been their biggest year so far.
Co-owner of Chocolaterie Stam Erin Broughton said she could barely keep up with the flow of tourists over the weekend.
“I anticipated there to be lower numbers,” Broughton said. “But, I was completely wrong. And, ecstatic that I was completely wrong.”
Broughton said her family purchased the shop in 2020, just before the pandemic. She said Chocolate Extravaganza has been her first taste of a truly busy season.
“Today we’re already almost at 200,” Broughton said. “We hit the ground running this morning and another 200 tickets so we’re getting there and hopefully we’ll have another 900 to 1,000 by the end of the day.”
Volunteers say the Chocolate Extravaganza had 75% more people show up than they had anticipated.
“Really, the only problem we’ve had is exceeding demand,” said McKenzie Disselhorst, executive director of the Hannibal Chamber of Commerce, who wore her volunteer hat today.
Disselhorst said the highest number of passports they sold in previous years was around 950. This year, she said they have sold at least 1,350.
“People are taking shorter, more regional trips (or) staycations in their own areas,” Disselhorst said. “So, if history repeats itself, I think the Hannibal businesses apart of our tourism sector should be in good shape for this year, even with gas prices on the rise.”
Dissellhorst said for over a decade, Chocolate Extravaganza has brought regular tourists back to Hannibal.
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