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Is there a better way to spend a rainy Saturday evening before the Big Game than by sharing a warm bowl of soup with friends and neighbors?

About 350 people didn’t think so Feb. 2 at the 10th annual Soup-er Bowl fundraiser for the Calistoga Art Center.

Everyone attending the event got to pick out a unique, ceramic bowl hand-crafted by local artists and then sampled more than a dozen different soups. Afterwards, they got to take the bowls home.

Attendees also participated in a blind vote for their favorite soup and the winner was Cal Mart, getting bragging rights for the next 12 months for their Curried Coconut Yam/Squash soup. Coming in second was All Seasons Bistro, and Sam’s Social Club took third place.

Fourteen local restaurants also each donated about three gallons of soup this year, which included everything from gumbo to borscht. Volunteers from the community ladling soup were kept busy with long lines.

The event was MC’d by Mayor Chris Canning, who kept the live auction going with items that included a tour and tasting at Rivers Marie, a new winery opening in Calistoga this fall, a “Fireman’s” cake from Bella Bakery, and a dinner with celebrity chefs Sonia Murphy and John Coss.

Local resident Vicki Edwards said this was her seventh or eighth time coming to the Soup-er Bowl.

“We have a huge collection of bowls. We keep saying we need to have an event to display them,” she said.

French bread was donated by Cal Mart, and a special dessert was created by Maria Beauchamp, Sequoia Buck, Melisa Dooley, Julie Elkeshen, Diane Kuykendall, Susan Leick, Mitzi Mishler, Cathy Pope, Monica Suhr, Genevieve Welsh, and Brenda Wild.

The event was also made possible by many volunteers, among them Tom Atkins, Tony Beardsley, Melisa Dooley, Michael Hicks, and Anna Johansson.

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You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at csweeney@weeklycalistogan.com or 942-4035.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor