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Food Bank’s Empty Bowls Festival Returns In-Person After a Year

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Like many annual events put on hiatus last year because of the pandemic, Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association’s Empty Bowls Festival is now returning in-person on Sunday, September 12 at the Fort McMurray Heritage Shipyard. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dubbed Empty Bowls Remixed this year, the sixth annual family-friendly festival is one of the flagship fundraisers for the Food Bank. Entry is by donation this year. In the past, attendees purchased a bowl and made their way across the festival for different eateries, which featured local restaurants and market vendors, but will be different this year. Anna Noble, Communications and Development Manager, Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association, elaborates.

“This years’ event will be quite a bit smaller. Because planning the full event in time wasn’t feasible, we are capturing the essence of Empty Bowls in this ‘mini-version!’ It will be a market of all the leftover bowls from the previous five events (created by community members at the Fort McMurray Potter’s Guild and Color Me Mine Fort McMurray), along with some live music by Max Noseworthy, and a BBQ hosted by Mr. Mike’s. We will also have some art and food-themed raffle items, and the best part is that everything is by donation! So, while this year won’t involve our amazing restaurant and market partners, it will serve as a little taster of the larger event for those who have never attended before,” said Noble, who has been with the Food Bank for over six years.

An estimated 400-500 bowls will be available at the festival. Unlike previous years, the Food Bank isn’t aiming for a target fundraising amount.  

“Our goal is to host an accessible and enjoyable event for the community, so we can see everyone’s smiling faces again. Of course, we are also aiming to raise funds towards our programs and services – however, we chose not to set a particular fundraising goal this year as it is hard to know what to expect with the stresses on the community at the moment. We are just happy to be able to get out and fundraise again, and whatever we raise will be gratefully appreciated,” enthused Noble.

The new location this year, she notes, adds to the excitement.

“All previous events were held at Jubilee Plaza, but after attending other events at the Fort McMurray Heritage Shipyard we realized this is an incredible space for community events like ours! We are looking at the Shipyard being the new location going forward as well and couldn’t be more excited,” Noble added.

The Food Bank is taking COVID precautions by making hand sanitizers and washrooms available. Masks are not required, but “they are encouraged to have on hand, in case it gets crowded. We want to ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable.”

Noble wished to thank all the community organizations, who made the festival possible.

“We’d like to extend a huge thank you to our sponsors for being flexible and making this event possible in such a short time frame; Hedco (Title Sponsor), Suncor Energy (Bowl Sponsor) and Mix 103.7 and 100.5 Cruz (Media Sponsor). As well as to Mr. Mike’s for jumping on board to provide some delicious burgers, and AJP Audio Services for finding us some live music! In addition, a huge thank you to the Fort McMurray Heritage Society for staying open after season to let us rent their incredible space! Last but not least, thank you to the community for standing by us through many postponed, altered and cancelled events – we hope you are able to pop down and join us. And we look forward to having all our partners and sponsors back for the full event in the summer of 2022!”


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Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.