Conscious Party: Henderson County Empty Bowls

CLAY OUTSIDE: Local potters Sandra Poces and David Voorhees create clay vessels for the Empty Bowls supper on April 29 at Flat Rock's St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church. The event benefits the Flat Rock Backpack Program.
CLAY OUTSIDE: Local potters Sandra Poces and David Voorhees create clay vessels for the Empty Bowls supper on April 29 at Flat Rock's St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church. The event benefits the Flat Rock Backpack Program. Photo courtesy of Henderson County Empty Bowls

WHAT: A meal to benefit the Flat Rock Backpack Program

WHEN: Sunday, April 29, 5-7 p.m.

WHERE: St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church, Flat Rock

WHY: For a number of years, Zirconia-based potter David Voorhees helped organize MANNA FoodBank’s Empty Bowls. At the events, community members come together for a meal and take home handmade bowls from local potters while raising funds to help end hunger in Western North Carolina.

Seeing the need for a similar event in Henderson County, Voorhees approached the Flat Rock Backpack Program, for whom he’d provided fundraising help for a few years through the Open Studio Tour of Henderson County.

“The Backpack Program serves recognized children in need in many Henderson County schools, helping with weekend food needs for 150-180 students,” he says. “They operate on a very limited budget, so I knew that this could help significantly.”

The partnership was forged, and the inaugural event in 2017 exceeded Voorhees’ and his three fellow organizers’ expectations, doubling their projections and raising over $7,000, roughly one-third of the Backpack Program’s yearly budget.

The 2018 Empty Bowls meal takes place Sunday, April 29, at the Parish Hall of St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church in Flat Rock. Organizers plan to have 400-500 bowls available, donated by most of the potters in Henderson County as well as some from other areas, including Upstate South Carolina.

“Potters are so great to work with — an email or two and the word spreads quickly,” Voorhees says. “We have a number of schools helping with bowls as well: Blue Ridge Community College and several public schools through their art programs.”

Alykat Deli, Hubba Hubba Smokehouse, Kenmure Country Club, Episcopal Church Women and other local restaurants, bakers and groups are donating soup, breads and desserts for the family-style meal. The bowls, however, will not be used as serving vessels during the event.

“They come in covered with studio dust and get handled many times,” Voorhees says. “Instead of running them all through a dishwasher, we use paper products.”

Voorhees’ creations for the event include functional stoneware bowls, many with carved or stamped decorations. He’ll also have a couple of larger serving bowls in the Collectors Gallery section, featuring donated items — mostly art — offered at market prices. All funds go to the Backpack Program’s food purchases, and the goal for the 2018 event is $10,000.

Henderson County Empty Bowls takes place Sunday, April 29, 5-7 p.m. at St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church in Flat Rock. $25 per person or $50 for families. stjohnflatrock.org

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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