Photo by Sue Tone.
It was 26 years ago that the Empty Bowls event began as a high school ceramics class project in Michigan in 1990. The non-profit Imagine/Render Group promotes the event in the fight against hunger, but independent communities manage their own events.
Prescott’s first Empty Bowls occurred in 1997, and this year’s 19th annual event takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, on the courthouse plaza, sponsored the two Unitarian Universalist congregations of Prescott.
“I really don’t know of another community event that brings out so many enthusiastic people who are willing to stand in line for 30 minutes or more to select a handcrafted bowl and eat soup,” said Eunice Ricklefs, event coordinator.
A donation of $15 gets participants a handmade ceramic bowl of their choice and two servings of soup prepared by 14 local chefs. Bread and water are included. A separate table holds about 40 specialty items for a silent auction that includes artwork, hand-turned wooden bowls, ceramic platters, mugs, vases, and jewelry.
First in line gets first pick of more than 600 ceramic bowls made by artists and students, but there will be enough to choose from throughout the event.
Attendees select two servings of gourmet soup offered by Augie’s (Gumbo); Far From Folsom (Cash Chili Steak & Bean); Blackboard Kitchen (Vegan Spicy Asian); Lonesome Valley Brewery (New England Clam Chowder); El Gato Azul (Posole); Prescott Seafood Co. (Lobster Bisque); Hungry Monk (Onion Beer Cheese Soup); Park Plaza Deli (Vegan Roasted Butternut Curry); Raven Cafe (Manhattan Chowder); Bonnfire of Chino Valley (Minestrone); Premier Catering & Events (Southwestern Chipotle Chicken); El Gato Azul (Salmon Bisque); Hassayampa Inn (Albondigas de mi Familia); and Muphy’s Restaurant (Buffalo Chicken Potato soup w/Bleu Cheese garnish).
It takes many hands to run an event like this that brings in about $14,000 for agencies that have included Prescott Community Cupboard, Chino Valley Food Bank, Prescott Valley Food Bank, Yavapai County Food Bank, and CCJ Open Door Pantry.
Boy and Girls Scout troops help with the set-up of shade canopies, tables and chairs, and with the washing of the bowls. Church youth distribute rolls and water, sell raffle tickets and provide escort services for people with disabilities.
Cross-eyed Possum, made up of three Prescott High School students, will entertain the crowd at noon.
“The camaraderie of the community in supporting our local food banks show Prescott at its finest,” Ricklefs said.