By Riley Manning
TUPELO – This year’s Empty Bowls event was a first-time experience for Chance Beck and Melodi McCamey, but like the other 60 or so vendors, they represented the Neon Pig Cafe and Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen well.
“We’ve got leeks with roasted red peppers, blue cheese and country ham,” Beck said. “The key to a good soup is fresh ingredients.”
Several hundred ticket holders browsed the Salvation Army’s hugely successful bake sale, as well as pottery pieces by the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary and other local artisans.
“The turnout is amazing,” McCamey said. “We’re definitely doing this again next year.”
The annual event takes place nationwide through the Salvation Army and is meant to bring to mind the less fortunate served by the nonprofit. For these people, a bowl of soup and a scrap of bread may be all they have to get them through the day.
It is a sentiment that prompted Bernard Golden, representing Stables Downtown Grill, to go all out. His shrimp gumbo came from a recipe he learned while an apprentice in Atlanta in the 1980s.
“Shrimp gumbo is the most expensive thing to make. Since it’s for charity, I wanted to do more than just get by,” he said. “It’s good, too. Made fresh this morning.”
Martha Bland, president of the women’s auxiliary, was excited that the pleasant weather invited such a turnout.
“We had people lined up here 45 minutes before it started,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope we have enough soup.’”
On top of that, Bland said curbside orders had been called in for 20 bowls of soup or more.
“The only problems we had were good ones like running out of Styrofoam bowls from so many people,” she said.
By the end of the day, Bland said money garnered by the event was tallied at $41,000 and counting. She estimated a final total by this afternoon.