Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Saint Peter’s version of the Super Bowl January 29, 2013

IN THIS WEEK of Super Bowl XLVII, at least one Minnesota community has already tapped into the super sporting event hype to benefit the local arts community. And that happened in a way you likely would not expect, via Souper Bowl VII.

The hand-thrown pottery bowl I chose at the Souper Bowl for my chicken wild rice soup.

The hand-thrown pottery bowl I chose at the Souper Bowl for my chicken wild rice soup.

Saturday afternoon, my husband and I joined arts-loving diners at the St. Peter Community Center for soup served in hand-thrown pottery bowls. And the bowls were ours to keep at a cost of $12 each (or $8 per kid) for the art and the meal.

Six local potters gave of their time and talents to create 240 soup bowls for the luncheon of donated breads and soups—tomato basil, chicken wild rice and chili—cookies and beverages.

Joel Moline and Thalia Taylor kneading clay during a visit to the Clay Center in March 2012..

Joel Moline and Thalia Taylor kneading clay during a visit to the Clay Center in March 2012..

While I really do like soup, a lot, I appreciate even more the whole Souper Bowl concept. What a creative way to expose the arts to the general public while raising monies for the Arts Center of Saint Peter Clay Center programming. (Read a previous post about the Clay Center by clicking here.) The goal is to keep arts center activities “accessible, affordable and vibrant to the St. Peter community and surrounding region,” according to promotional information.

The selection of bowls remaining when we arrived at noon, an hour after doors opened.

The selection of bowls remaining when we arrived at noon, an hour after doors opened.

Choosing a bowl added a fun  element to the event. Here’s how the process worked for me: I narrowed my selection to my favorite color, green. But with only a few green bowls on the table and the hue I liked best in the hands of a debating diner, I faced a dilemma. Should I pick my second favorite green bowl or wait for this woman to decide between the two bowls she balanced in her hands?

A few green bowls sat among the mostly brown and blue ones.

A few green bowls sat among the mostly brown and blue ones.

I opted to wait, to hover, but not so close as to call attention to my interest in the green bowl. My game plan paid off when the woman finally set the green bowl down and walked away. I moved in for the fumble, snatching up the coveted prize. Touchdown.

Diners line up for soup or chili. Seconds could be had for a freewill donation.

Diners line up for soup or chili. Seconds could be had for a freewill donation.

My ever patient spouse waited nearby as I took a few photos before we entered the dining area and washed our bowls which were then filled, his with chili, mine with chicken wild rice. A volunteer behind the serving counter even heated my soup in the microwave when I told her it wasn’t hot enough. How’s that for Saint Peter nice? And Randy was invited to return for more soup since his bowl was somewhat small; he tried tasty tomato basil in the second quarter.

A soup server heated my soup in the microwave and then placed the hot bowl on a plate.

A soup server heated my soup in the microwave and then placed the hot bowl on a plate.

A few more photos later and we were dining, in the fine company of arts center board member Harry Hunt and his wife, Bonnie. Harry, who works in financial services, shared that he isn’t an artist, seeming even a bit apologetic about his lack of artistic talent. But I was quick to tell him he could certainly contribute to the arts board with his financial expertise.

The Arts Center of Saint Peter, 315 South Minnesota Avenue, St. Peter, Minnesota.

The arts center in downtown St. Peter, photographed on a visit there in March 2012.

Eventually, I turned our table talk to the March 1998 tornado in St. Peter which caused an estimated $300 million in property damage and claimed one life. I wanted to know if the Hunts had been affected by the tornado.

Bonnie recalled how they had been visiting family in the metro when they learned of the bad weather in southern Minnesota. “Well, let’s see if we have a home left,” she joked as the couple drove back toward St. Peter, unaware that a tornado had ravaged their community. They arrived to find their home on the edge of town destroyed. The Hunts rebuilt.

Today they laugh at an incident shortly after the disaster. Harry was working in the basement of their destroyed home when someone called down to announce the arrival of then Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson. Harry emerged from the basement and greeted the Governor: “Welcome to our open house.”

You can bet Randy and I appreciated the winning company and humor of the Hunts as much as the soup and the hand-thrown pottery bowls we took home from Saint Peter’s Souper Bowl.

Potter Missy Wood created this teapot for the Souper Bowl silent auction.

Potter Missy Wood created this teapot for the Souper Bowl silent auction.

HAVE YOU ATTENDED a fundraiser like this? Please share your experiences, thoughts and ideas. We can all learn from one another.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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4 Responses to “Saint Peter’s version of the Super Bowl”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Of course I LOVE the teapot!! I have several pottery teapots in my collection that I love!!!!! But that one is awesome!!! The Salvation Army Auxiliary in Concord, NC did a similar Souper Bowl event but not with the hand made pottery. Their bowls were ceramic and hand painted by locals –I was able to go 2 years and have two bowls that make me smile whenever I use them because it was for such a good cause and held such great soup. I love this idea and I think the pottery adds a special touch!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I fully expected the teapot comment from you. It’s a lovely piece, for sure. I just love this whole concept and am hoping my local arts center will do something like this.

  2. Jackie Says:

    What a great idea combining amazing hand thrown bowls with yummy soup all for a good cause, I think that would be so fun to pick a bowl, it would be hard to choose, way to go with limiting yourself to Green 🙂 I love tomato basil, so I’m sure that would have been my pick.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, I thought about choosing a color other than green, if I couldn’t have gotten the green bowl I eventually acquired. I love tomato basil, too, but I’d just prepared it days before at home. Randy let me taste his. Speaking of which, my wonderful husband really wanted to have a hamburger somewhere. But I told him we could have a burger anytime. So he agreed to attend the Souper Bowl and, I think, really enjoyed himself. He even led the way and sat down by the Hunts because, as he said, “I knew you would want to talk to someone.” Oh, he knows me well. Love that husband of mine. He’s so thoughtful.


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