BENNINGTON -- The Village Chocolate Shoppe, 471 Main St., signed on to the Bennington area Independence Day celebration Friday by inviting children and families to come into its kitchen to decorate American flags molded out of chocolate.

Kids and parents were able to take home their creations for free after brushing them with melted chocolate and pinning candy sprinkles how they chose.

"We come to a lot of these events," said mother and foster mother M'Ellen Erickson. "Everything they do here is very community-oriented."

The Village Chocolate Shoppe is a family-run business and hosts an event every Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. Due to the postponement of the town's fireworks on Friday, shop owner Nick Monte rescheduled the chocolate flag-making event for 4 p.m. to bring in families looking to celebrate the holiday during the day.

Monte said the attendance depends on the kind of event. More than 100 people usually come into the shop for the most popular nights when they can make their own creations. "It seems to stimulate families coming downtown, which is our main purpose. It's good for the town," Monte said.

A number of years ago, the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce came up with a collaborative idea to augment business among establishments downtown, called "Funky Fridays," in which businesses could do their own creative events to help the chamber invite residents to the commercial district.


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Though "Funky Fridays" didn't catch on with everyone, the chocolate shop became successful with it, and began hosting a family activity every Friday throughout the summer, calling it "Funtastic Friday."

"I really like being a part of this," said chocolatier Ken Monte. "I've been watching half these kids grow up."

The next event will be held Friday, July 11, and Saturday, July 12, at 6 p.m. to celebrate the town's very first Bennington Bike Night. For $5, anyone will be able to create and decorate their own chocolate motorcycle. The proceeds will go to Meals on Wheels.

The shop hosts many of its events as fundraisers, beneficiaries of which have in the past included the Project Against Violent Encounters, the Green Mountain Club, gift donations to families in need and others.

Also find the Village Chocolate Shoppe on Old Mill Road in Arlington, and also on Facebook or online at http://www.villagepeddlervt.com/index.php.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningotnbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg