Cookie lovers got a taste of Holmes County when the Christmas Cookie Tour of Inns presented Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas, sponsored by the Amish Country Lodging Council.
With 12 stops total -- at The Barn Inn Bed & Breakfast, Berlin Grande Hotel, Berlin Hotel & Suites, Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek, Carlisle Inn Walnut Creek, Comfort Suites Berlin, Country Inn and Suites Dover, Grapevine House Bed & Breakfast, Hannah's House Retreat, Inn at Amish Door, Sojourner's Lodge and Zinck's Carriage House -- participants were treated to an afternoon of progressive cookie tasting and touring through 12 festively decorated inns of Amish Country.
Each stop distributed a specialty chocolate cookie. These included everything from Monster Cookies and Triple Chocolate Chunk Pecan Cookies to Red Velvet Cookies and Almost Healthy Cookies.
To navigate the self-paced and self-guided tour, participants were each given a Souvenir Guide that served as both an Amish Country map and a 2012 Cookie Recipe Book. The guide also included a description of each inn and a history of chocolate.
Like last year, the event donated 100 percent of net ticket sales profit to Hospice and The Love Center Food Pantry in Millersburg.
Since 2008, the Christmas Cookie Tour of Inns has donated more than $50,000 to local charities.
For the third year in a row, the Love Center Food Pantry will be one of the beneficiaries from the tour.
"We buy tons of food with the donation," said Gateway Fellowship Pastor Larry Hasemeyer. "The donation alone could supply us with food for an entire year."
Located in Gateway Fellowship's 4,500-square-foot Friends for Friends Community Resource Center, the Love Center offers food to more than 1,100 Holmes County families each year.
In addition, the Love Center has given out 600 turkeys so far this holiday season. That annual program will extend until Christmas.
"It's really an immeasurable help to us each year," said Hasemeyer. "This has been really tremendous, it's really wonderful that they would consider us. We are also blessed to share the donation with Hospice of Holmes County."
Hospice provides compassionate care to the terminally ill and their families, supporting nearly 1,500 families.
"This is the most tickets we've sold, nearly 1,400 tickets, said owner of The Barn Inn Loretta Coblentz as a number of those participants toured the inn during the event, which was held Dec. 2-3.
To prepare for the event, The Barn Inn was done up in true holiday fashion.
"We started decorating, of course, already before Thanksgiving," said Coblentz. "We make sure everything is decorated and we chose to showcase all seven rooms so people could spread out in the inn."
To give the inn its beautiful holiday makeover, that decoration consisted mostly of pulling together and implementing ideas, she said.
"I focus on a beautiful table setting and I like to feature things that will give people ideas of what they can do in their homes," said Coblentz, giving her artfully crafted pine cones as an example. "They are simple and elegant."
The impression left by all this planning is well worth the effort, added Coblentz.
"We hear people say six months or nine months later, 'We were here on the cookie tour.' It makes an impression," she said.
With more than 500 likes on the Christmas Cookie Tour of Inns Facebook page in time to kick off the fifth annual tour, many participants expressed their appreciation and enjoyment of the event.
"The Cookie Tour was so much fun! I'm so glad that I got to go this year," said Glenda Wylie.
"Just got home about an hour ago. Four of us came from Lorain County," said Judy Hummel Miller. "I had come last year, but three were first-timers. We will definitely be back next year! Great day, and no rain this year!"
The tour concluded with a drawing for a $150 gift certificate for use at one of the participating inns.
Reporter Kelley Mohr can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.