It is hard to believe that it has been five years since Bernell Rice, member of the Sunrise Rotary, drafted the idea for an “Empty Bowls” event to help raise money for One Good Meal. Coming up with a good fundraiser was a must in order to help the many charities the organizations supports.
Before the Feb. 2 event, Rice told me that he patterned “Empty Bowls” after an event that Red Star Pottery Studio founded. They had a work sell space close to 17th and Summit in Kansas City. They are currently located in Independence. Working with Liz Scavazzo and other talented potters, the Sunrise Rotary was able to create an event that not only showcased great potters in the area but let folks taste some great food. Jackie Rice, Bernell’s pretty wife, told me that besides being a talented artist, Scavazzo is a woman with a big heart. She helped the Sunrise Rotary connect with the artists in the pottery world so that there would be lots of bowls for folks to choose from at the event. Scavazzo was on hand to give pottery demonstrations.
It was my pleasure to attend this year’s event which was held at Longview Mansion once again. Driving up the long drive to the Mansion parking lot, I could not help but think about the late Loula Long Combs. The crisp star studded sky was like an elegant mantel wrapped around the historic structure. As if a tribute to Combs and her Hackney horses, I saw beautiful carriages taking folks to and from the event. Randy Klotz and his charming carriages added just the right touch to the evening. Frank, the beautiful, powerful Percheron horse pranced in front of the elegant carriages.
I was greeted inside the Mansion by Carolyn McKnight, her husband Spencer and Rosalie Newkirk. You could not have found a more pleasant group to help start off the evening.
The Mansion was packed to the hilt with folks waiting their turn to sample some of the delicious soups, bread and desserts that encircled the Longview Pavilion.
Some beautiful pottery was offered at auction as part of the sold-out fundraiser. If you fancied sports memorabilia, some wonderful items were just waiting to be snatched up by a lucky bidder.
Joe Snook from Parks and Recreation was selling raffle tickets. Who would not want to buy a ticket from this great looking guy? Bob Paradise and many other Sunrise Rotary members were at full speed keeping everything running smoothly. It was great to see Shelley Loethen who is a member of the Lee’s Summit Symphony. She possesses one of the best smiles in our fair city. It was good to see John Wisniewski, our city’s famous architect and possessor of the best mustache in the region was enjoying himself at the event.
Once the doors opened, there was a scramble to pick out a beautiful handmade bowl and start sampling some great food. I heard a big booming, welcoming voice as I moved down the line. Giuliano Monnetti Jr., owner of Monetti’s Taste of Italy, was tempting folks to try his famous garlic knots, potato soup and Tiramisu for dessert. His manager, Kiley Sullivan, helped serve his bill of fare. Megan Layman served up those habit-forming cinnamon rolls from The Neighborhood Café. Mike Collier, from HyVee East, served a wonderful array of bread. Westside Local, located at 17th and Summit, ladled up almond coconut curry soup. There were 14 restaurants who participated in the event and 17 clay artists including students from Lee’s Summit, Lee’s Summit North and Lee’s Summit West high schools.
If you needed a little something to wash the great food down, bartenders Steven King and Ben Kasey were on hand to pour the libation. These guys swore that those were the real names.
Leaving the Pavilion, I gave a tip of the hat to Loula Long Combs who is the constant spiritual hostess for all events at Longview. As a charitable woman, I think Combs would have been pleased with those great Sunrise Rotarians.