The Souper Bowl is set to be in downtown Starkville this Saturday, Jan. 25. Cold weather is inevitable in January, but the Greater Starkville Development Partnership has created an event perfect for chasing away those winter chills. The Souper Bowl is a community-wide event that features soups made by locally-owned restaurants.
As of now, restaurants that will be featured are Bulldog Burger, The Grill, Harvey's, The Little Dooey, Restaurant Tyler, Mom and Pop's, Riley J. Streatery, Arepas, Moe's Original BBQ, Nine-Twentynine Coffee Bar, Starkville Cafe, the Starkville Country Club and more. Participants can purchase tickets in advance for $15 through an online forum. Tickets will also be available at the event for $20. The ticket provides the buyer with unlimited soup tasting at the event.
Each restaurant will prepare soup for the event. Ticket holders will have the opportunity to try each of the soups and vote on their favorites. The soups will be ranked from first to third place. There will also be a "Best in Show" which will be voted by the event's participants.
Paige Watson, the special events and projects coordinator for the Development Partnership, is optimistic for the event Saturday.
"It's really, really fun," Watson said. "The restaurants are all doing really unique soups, and it's a good showcase of Starkville's culinary scene."
The proceeds from the Souper Bowl will go to improve Starkville's downtown area, including creating murals and redoing sidewalks.
"Not only does it showcase our culinary scene, but it's a very fun family event," Watson said. "I think it promotes all the things we love about Starkville."
The Souper Bowl is a Starkville Main Street Association sponsored event. It will take place on Main Street from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Live music from Jeffrey Rut and Walkin Jones will be featured at the event.
When it comes to community events like the Souper Bowl, Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill is all for them. She said positive events like the Souper Bowl brings a feeling of energy and excitement to the community.
"They bring people into town and create excitement," Spruill said. "I love bringing people to town. You get to engage with others, and Main Street is just the place for that."
The Frostbite Half Marathon is partnering with the Souper Bowl for the third year in a row, and the runners will end on Main Street during the Souper Bowl event. Participants from the Souper Bowl can cheer on runners coming to the finish line. Race Director Brad Jones said it has changed the atmosphere of the race.
"I think that's made a big difference," Jones said. "It makes it feel more like an event than just a race. It makes it entertaining."
Watson said the partnership with the half marathon has taken the event up a notch. Whit Stuckey, co-owner and operator of Moe's Original BBQ, said the restaurant has participated in the Souper Bowl since it opened nearly four years ago, and the Souper Bowl has grown since the event started partnering with the Frostbite Half Marathon.
"It's been good, I think people like the soup," Stuckey said. "I think it's grown since they've started doing it with Frostbite. It draws a crowd."
Watson said a lot of traffic comes through downtown for the Souper Bowl, which not only benefits the restaurants participating but also the businesses on Main Street.
"Events downtown draw a lot of traffic downtown," Watson said. "It gets people out and about near the businesses downtown too."
Spruill also said the event positively affects the restaurants participating and the residents who are attending.
"It introduces restaurants and gives them the opportunity to be creative," Spruill said. "It's a positive thing all the way around."
In the past, Moe's Original BBQ has served a variety of chilis at the event, including smoked brisket chili, smoked chicken green chili and smoked turkey white bean chili.
Stuckey said participation in the Souper Bowl was good for his business.
"I think the exposure's definitely good, very beneficial," Stuckey said. "I think our soups are really good, but it has more to do with just the soup. It depends on how you do at the event."
Stuckey hopes the Souper Bowl brings Moe's more exposure, which can lead to more business.
"Any event on Main Street helps us, and any exposure we can get is great," Stuckey said. "We hope they come and eat with us."
A volunteer signup is available for anyone interested in helping out with the event. Those interested should call 662-323-3322 for more information.