By Jessica Reynolds Staff writer
The Daily Star
---- — More than 450 colorful bowls sit on shelves at Carriage House Arts Studios, ready to be endlessly filled and emptied at the 10th annual Chili Bowl cook-off and fundraiser on Sunday at Wilber Mansion.
Doug Hallberg, owner and director of Carriage House Arts Studios, said more than 80 community volunteers, high school students, college students and professional potters gathered at his studio on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons in December and January to create the bowls for the big event, put on by the non-profit Community Arts Network of Oneonta.
The bowls will soon be brimming with more than 20 different chili recipes, entered by local restaurants, organizations and individuals, according to Kim Condon, co-chairwoman of the event, which will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Volunteer artists of all ages were invited to either create a bowl from scratch on the pottery wheel or paint a bisque bowl, Hallberg said.
“This year’s collection is the most interesting collection of bowls we’ve ever had,” Hallberg said. “It was a community effort, with a great deal of family involvement.”
Condon said each guest will be able to enjoy unlimited chili samples in their choice of bowl, ranging in price from $15 to $65, depending on the artist. She said anyone who buys a bowl will be able to vote for their favorite chili.
Last year, CANO sold 400 bowls, including 150 cardboard bowls that were used after the hand-painted ones sold out. This year’s event, Condon said, is expected to be even bigger. Organizers anticipate between 500 and 700 attendees.
Chili entries will be submitted by both novice and experienced culinary artists, as well as local restaurants, such as The Red Caboose, Bella Michael’s, the Autumn Café, Soda Jerks and B Side Ballroom and Supper Club. The entries will be judged in two categories, the People’s Choice Award and the Blind Taste Test Award, which will be judged by five members of the Oneonta Fire Department.
Josh Rumenapp, one of the firefighters who will be judging, said he is looking forward to the event.
“It’s an absolute blast,” Rumenapp said. “We are often involved with upsetting events in the community, so it is nice to be involved with such a good thing. We’re a bunch of guys who enjoy the food, too.”
Last year’s Blind Taste Test award went to Bob Eklund of Aramark at Hartwick College. The People’s Choice award was given to B Side Ballroom and Supper Club. Hallberg said Erik Halvorson, a glassblower and resident artist in glass at Hartwick College, has been commissioned to create two trophy bowls for this year’s winners.
For the fourth year in a row, the event will feature a quilt display by Susquehanna Valley Quilts Association, Condon said. Music will be provided by “The Mansion Jam Band,” a bluegrass band made up of local musicians.
Flo Loomis, CANO board member and president of the Susquehanna Valley Quilting Association, said more than 30 quilts, made by members of the association, will be on display in the Wilbur Mansion during the event. This is the association’s fourth year participating.
“The Chili Bowl gives us a chance to display the many different types of quilts we make,” Loomis said, “and show off what our members have done.”
Annie Kuhn, secretary of the CANO board, said a heated outside tent will be a nice addition this year. She said organizers agreed they needed more space after the mansion became crowded last year.
The Chili Bowl is CANO’s no. 1 fundraiser, Kuhn said. She said this year’s profits will go toward the re-painting of the mansion, as well as art scholarships to the Carriage House Studio, which gives individual and small group art classes to people of all ages and skill levels.
“Everybody has such a great time,” Kuhn said. “They get so excited that they can vote for their favorite!”
More than $7,000 was raised at last year’s Chili Bowl, according to Condon.
Condon said many Oneonta High School Students were involved in making and painting chili bowls this year. She said the OHS Drama Club will be entering chili in this year’s competition. Hartwick College students made 50 bowls, according to Hallberg.
Hallberg said many of the CANO board members, including Kuhn, Loomis and Condon, spent a great deal of time in the studio making bowls. He said local potters Solveig Comer, Elizabeth Neils, Ellie Stromberg and Jennifer Kemper also contributed many beautiful bowls.
Condon said she knows of several individuals who collect bowls from each year’s event.
“The Chili Bowl is so fun,” Condon said. “It’s a neat way to bring together the artists who made bowls, the culinary artists who made chili and the community to celebrate the arts.”