BOONE — The Watauga Arts Council is teaming up with the Watauga High School Art Department and the Hunger and Health Coalition to host Empty Bowls on April 24 and 25.

Empty Bowls is an annual fundraising event organized by the high school art department. Proceeds of Empty Bowls go to the Hunger and Health Coalition — a large-scale local food pantry serving High Country residents who struggle with food insecurity.

For the first time since its inception in 2001, Watauga High School Empty Bowls was canceled in 2020.

“Because of the prolonged nature of the pandemic, an event at the high school was not plausible and we were searching for possibilities to continue with the spirit of the event,” said Brett McDonough, a Watauga High School ceramics teacher.

“Our event is built 100 percent on donations from generous local potters, restaurant owners, and artists,” said Dacia Trethewey, Watauga High School art teacher. “We were sensitive to even ask for donations due to the challenges many have faced this year. So, when Amber (Bateman), the director of the Watauga County Arts Council, reached out offering to help we were thrilled.”

As the pandemic continued and many families in the community struggled to make ends meet, the Hunger and Health Coalition stayed open to ensure that local residents would have steady access to healthy foods.

“Being a consistent and reliable resource for our neighbors in need has never been more important. We know that providing nutritious foods helps our community stay healthy and keeps their immune systems strong. We are honored to partner with this passionate group of local artists to bring back such a beloved event,” said Elizabeth Young, Hunger and Health Coalition executive director.

“This has been such a tough year for so many people. I can’t think of a better way to lift spirits and encourage our residents,” Bateman said. “We feel so blessed to have the Blue Ridge ArtSpace and King Street Art Collective and want these spaces to be used for collaborative, creative purposes. We hope to see more of this in the future.”

The Arts Council is offering structure and support to help facilitate this fundraising event.

“Offering this to our friends at the high school and to the Hunger and Health Coalition while also inspiring creativity for our potters is the perfect way to showcase the spirit that makes the High Country so special,” Bateman said.

Empty Bowls 2021 will be a simplified version of the traditional Empty Bowls. While the event can’t offer the full soup-eating, social experience, it can offer beautiful bowls and shirts designed by Asa Markus, a senior at Watauga High School. Businesses who want to sponsor this event are encouraged to reach out to the Watauga Arts Council.

Artists looking to donate their wares can drop off their items at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace building at 377 Shadowline Drive, Boone, from now through April 23. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (828) 264-1789 if needed.

The event will be on Saturday, April 24, 5 to 8 p.m., and Sunday, April 25, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the King Street Art Collective located at 585 West King Street, Boone — just above Doe Ridge Pottery. This year, ticket holders will be able to drop in to choose a locally-made bowl, listen to a live band and check out the App State Senior Design Showcase.

Due to the pandemic, soup will not be served this year. To best keep patrons safe, the event is offering two different days and various pick-up times. Tickets can be purchased in advanced at www.eventbrite.com/e/watauga-county-empty-bowls-2021-tickets-148442915757. Links for tickets can be found on the Hunger and Health Coalition’s or the Watauga Arts Council website and Facebook page.

Those interested in volunteering can fill out a volunteer form at www.jotform.com/WataugaArts/volunteer-registration and put Empty Bowls in the comment section of the registration form. For more information, contact the Watauga County Arts Council at (828) 264-1789.

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