This weekend's chilly Saturday morning proved to be a good day to be out and about in downtown Starkville.
In conjunction with the annual Frostbite Half Marathon, 10k and 5k that took place on Saturday, the Greater Starkville Development Partnership held their annual Souper Bowl after the race from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to take full advantage of the already closed end of Main Street.
Paige Watson, Starkville's director of Main Street, said this event is an intentional effort to get the community together and interact with local businesses.
"We began to collaborate in 2018 actually, because this is such a big street closure (for the race) and the race takes up so much time that we thought we might as well do something in conjunction with the event," Watson said. "So, we started doing this and it's been super successful and has grown every year."
Watson also shared that the event has been going on for 10 years. She plays a key role in planning events like this one by organizing the event and recruiting restaurants and teams to participate in the event.
The joint efforts of the Main Street Association with the half-marathon event provide the post-run meal for the runners that is included in their registration fee, as well as tickets being sold online and at the entrance of the event to keep it open to the public.
Multiple businesses participated in the event, showcasing some of Starkville's restaurants.
One of the newer additions to the small-town cuisine varieties is a restaurant located on Mississippi State University's campus called Power of the Almond. This small business caters to different health-related dietary needs.
Kirk Hutchinson, the restaurant's founder, is from Windsor, NC, and attended MSU for college. He shared about the reasons he started this business in Starkville.
"I started a Keto, celiac and diabetic restaurant for health reasons that were personal to me," Hutchinson said. "We've been in business for a year and a half now in Starkville."
The inclusive restaurant's owner also spoke excitedly about the soup they prepared for the competition on Saturday.
"We made a Greek chicken lemon soup today, and it is a diabetic friendly soup, but you don't have to be a diabetic to eat it," Hutchinson said.
The culinary competitors involved in the event in addition to Power of the Almond were Moe's Original Barbecue, Arepas Coffee Bar, Mom & Pop, Proof Bakery, Central Station Grill, Harveys, Starkville Country Club and Tables at 4300.
Runners and non-runners alike were able to experience these restaurants. Laughter was heard down Lafayette Street as event-goers tried the soup and a local musician played live music.
One of the runners who came to partake in the festivities, Julie Lord, shared her experience with the event between samples of soups.
"I've done a number of the race events throughout the years and then when the Souper Bowl started we did that too," Lord said. "It's nice to have events this time of year, so it's a fun thing– well-managed and a great race. This is fun to see the different restaurants and getting to try stuff out."
After trying out the different soups, the guests were able to fill out a ballot that contained both the names of the participating food vendors and their soups. Guests were asked to select their favorite soup and place their vote on the ballot.
Once the votes were counted at the end of the event, titles were given out for first through third place and best of show.
The first-place winner was Central Station Grill, with their roasted kale and artichoke soup with smoked gouda and pork belly. Second place in the competition went to Starkville Country Club, who served smoked corn and tasso chowder. The third place winner was The Power of the Almond, with their chicken avgolemono. Best of show was awarded to Tables at 4300 for their chicken and dumpling soup.