Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Serving plenty — Soup supper fills bowls, peninsula food bank’s coffers

By Naomi Hagelund
For the Redoubt Reporter

Around 400 people will leave Saturday’s fundraiser for the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank with full bellies and empty bowls. The food bank is teaming up with local organizations and volunteers to host the 12th annual Soup Supper and Auction.

The supper starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Kenai Central High School cafeteria. For $40, ticket holders will fill up on locally made desserts, enjoy homemade soup in handmade bowls, bid on auction items and listen to live music.

Soup offerings are vegetarian-vegan, halibut chowder and chili made by various gourmet cooks in the community. There will be Cold Stone Creamery cakes and chocolate fountains, as well as $20 raffle tickets to win $2,000. The food bank is auctioning off items like a trip for two to the proposed Pebble Mine site, airline tickets and a pie made by Kenai Mayor Pat Porter.

All money from the event goes to fund food bank programs.

“It’s a major fundraiser,” said Linda Swarner, director of the food bank. “It’s a fifth of our budget.”

Swarner said that last year’s event raised more than $60,000, thanks to ticket sales and the help of sponsors. This year’s major sponsors include Chevron, BP, Tesoro and ASRC Energy Services.

Tickets are still available, but not for long. The event is usually sold out, Swarner said. Each attendee gets to take home one of the more than 400 unique bowls local artists handcrafted and donated to the event.

Only around a dozen potters are involved in making the donated bowls, said Charles LaForge, a member of the Kenai Potters Guild. Many hours go into the creation of these special bowls. There’s the process of making and trimming the bowls, then they go through one firing before they are glazed, after which they go through a second, 12-hour firing.

“If you were to sit down and throw a bowl on the wheel, it would probably just take a few minutes, but once you apply all the other techniques, it adds up to a lot of time,” LaForge said. “That one little bowl is handled quite a bit.”

The artists have been working since April, finishing most of the bowls in July. Most of the potters threw their bowls at home and built up an inventory early on, waiting to glaze and finish the products for another month or two.

The only thing the food bank requires of the artists is they make the bowls big enough to hold two cups of soup, LaForge said. Four hundred bowls can take up a lot of room, so they are not made very wide. They are crafted into more of a deep, traditional soup bowl.

Not only is the event an opportunity for the potters of the ¬guild to use their skill and time to help the community, it’s also a chance for them to experiment with new designs and glaze techniques.

“All the bowls are in a different style that represents the style of the potter,” LaForge said. “They all put their individual decoration or glaze techniques on the bowls.”

The auction also is a chance for the Kenai Potter’s Guild to get a little advertising.

“We get our name out there, and our product through that,” LaForge said. “We have a show sometime during the year, and hopefully people remember us.”

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