SPRINGDALE — One sniff outside the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center Sunday afternoon (Feb. 26) and one could tell — there was something tasty being served inside.
Actually, it was quite a few tasty somethings — enough soup and fixings to feed more than 600 people at the 11th annual Soup Sunday fundraiser for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF).
Attendance at the family-friendly affair bested last year’s 450 people. Proceeds were up, too — $47,000 compared to last year’s $45,000, said Laura Kellams, director at the Northwest Arkansas office of AACF.
Inside the convention center, patrons moved from station to station, sampling soups, stews and bisques provided by more than two dozen local eateries. In addition to donating soup, these charitable restaurateurs took the time to serve at the fundraiser, both of which represent a considerable commitment of product and energy. Some vendors brought breads, desserts or drinks instead of soup.
Hard-core Soup Sunday veterans know to bring their metal muffin tins to organize and carry their Dixie cup-sized samples of soup; others had to settle for pressed-paper drink carriers.
Among some of the most talked-about soups were bhk kafe’s roasted cauliflower with chickpea curry, Cafe Rue Orleans’ shrimp and corn bisque and Fresno Cafe and Pub’s New England Clam Chowder. New to the Soup Sunday table, so to speak, were Vetro 1925 and Bordinos, both of which expressed interest in returning next year, Kellams said.
One end of the room held a stage and small dance floor. Music was provided by the McFetridge Jazz Combo; the dance floor was occupied mostly by children.
With so much sampling going on, disposal of all those cups, spoons, napkins and bottles had been an issue. This year, organizers worked with Americorps volunteers and the Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders’ sustainability team to recycle and compost all waste, Kellams said. The result was just one-third of a bag of trash at the end of the affair.
Also this year, Arkansas Children’s Hospital was the event’s presenting sponsor.
“I think it says so much about the work of Arkansas Advocates that another nonprofit is the lead sponsor of Soup Sunday,” Kellams said. “They realize the importance of our work to their own mission to keep children healthy.”