25th anniversary of Empty Bowls to be presented in new format

Nov. 7, 2020 — In the 25 years that Empty Bowls has served as a premier fundraiser for Florence Food Share, it has gone through a lot of changes.  

In the early days, the event was held in the tiny tasting area of Gayle Sisson’s original Grape Leaf Wine Bar on Bay Street. 

In those days, a couple hundred bowls were sold at most. But the event grew to fill the main floor of Frames of Florence shop before moving on to the larger floor of On Your Feet — and eventually the Florence Events Center.

Along with the growth of the venue has come a substantial increase in the number of bowls and other art being offered each year.  

From those several hundred bowls in the early years, the event has grown to offer more than 1,300 bowls and other small ceramic items this year, along with a large silent auction.

Most of the area’s favorite potters from past years, including Greg Kennedy, Kris Denoyer, Karen Brodkin and many others, have already donated bowls for this year’s event — and kilns are still firing. 

In addition to the size of the event, this year patrons will also see changes in the manner in which the event is held due to COVID-19.  

There will be no “crush” of shoppers. In order to allow for social distancing, this year’s Empty Bowls  will be spread out in the full five rooms of the flat floor of the FEC.

There will be one-way traffic and face coverings will be mandatory. Volunteers will be strategically placed to assist shoppers with examining the bowls without touching them until they decide to select them.

Additionally, any bowl selected and then rejected will be sanitized.

The event has also made changes to the silent auction. Knowing that keeping track of the bidding on an item you bid on is half of the fun, there will be a printed “catalog” of the silent auction items and a dedicated phone line to allow bidders to call in over the course of the event to check on — and raise — their bid.

The catalog will also be available online to allow those not wishing to come to the event in-person to call in to bid on an item.

The Empty Bowls Committee has been working hard to make this 25th anniversary event safe, enjoyable and successful, with all proceeds benefiting Florence Food Share’s mission to alleviate hunger in western Lane County.

This year’s Empty Bowls will be held Dec. 3  and 4 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.