Well, we did it! After a culminating effort from the Ulrich museum, the WSU Ceramics Guild, and the WSU Hunger Awareness Initiative, the WSU Empty Bowls Chili Cook Off was a success! Having never been a part of an event like this, I must be honest and tell you I set my expectations low. I loved having those expectations blown away. I didn’t ever hear the final count on how many were in attendance, but there was a steady stream of people throughout the event. I really enjoyed working this event so I decided to blog about my experiences at my first Empty Bowls event.
A group of us met Friday evening to set up and prep bowls. One group worked on the silent auction room. Preparing and arranging items that were for sale. I do have to bunny trail and tell you how beautiful these pieces were! So incredible. We even had pieces in the silent auction from Italy. (Yay! Deborah Ballard-Reisch rocks!). Back in the main room, table cloths were put out and the bowls that had been stashed all around the ceramics lab were assembled onto carts. The carts were wheeled into the gym area and an assembly line style effort was established. I’m not sure I can paint a picture of just how many bowls there were, but trust me when I say there was a ridiculous amount of bowls. I was first in my assembly line so it was my job to take sandpaper to the rough areas of a bowl as I handed them off to be inspected, wiped down and sorted on the table.
Once the tables were covered by these gorgeously intricate bowls, the extras were tucked into boxes stationed underneath the tables. While I didn’t hear a final count of how many bowls there were total, the final count for bowls that were set out on the tables reached almost 600. What a sight!
The next day we reported around 10am. It was hit the ground running. At first it didn’t seem like there was going to be that many chili entries, but as time for the event to start drew near, more and more crockpots came through that door. I was stationed serving chili. Specifically, I was in charge of “Ancho, Sweet Potato, Hominy” and “Oh Deer Me” (venison chili) and “Ghost Pepper”. In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t know what an ancho was until about 2 minutes into serving, but that didn’t really hold me back from pitching it to anyone who would listen. Serving was probably my favorite part. I enjoyed getting to see all the faces that turned out and hearing people weigh the different chilis as they ate out of their mini taste tester bowls. People were having fun and benefiting a great cause while doing it. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The day wrapped up with the presentation of awards. Our four wonderful judges had labored over each and every chili. It was a great moment to wind down the day on as everyone gathered in to hear the results. People even joined in cheering for their favorites when they were mentioned. It was a great event and I was privileged to get to be a part of it!
I’ll leave you with a charge that originates from the idea of Empty Bowls. Think about them. Whenever you have the gifted opportunity to eat and fill your bowl, think about the empty bowls around the world or even the ones across town. Every dollar we raised this weekend provided four meals through the Kansas Food Bank. Don’t ever think that you can’t make a difference.