ELORA – Sensational Elora is getting with the times, updating its strategic plan, and acknowledging the diverse community that Centre Wellington has become.
And along those lines, it is encouraging soups from all countries and cultures at its popular Sensational Soup-off event on Oct. 9.
Kirk McElwain, chair of the volunteer organization, said Sensational Elora received a $26,937 grant from the federal Community Services Recovery Fund (CSRF) that it’s using to hire a consultant to help with the strategic plan.
The CSRF is a $400-million fund to support community service organizations, including charities, non-profits and Indigenous governing bodies adapt and modernize their organizations.
“We haven’t done it since 2008 when Sensational Elora started,” McElwain said.
“We are an organization that’s growing and evolving in a community that’s growing and evolving. We thought we’d better get with the times.”
What won’t be changing is its core mission: to raise awareness of food insecurity issues and funds for the Centre Wellington Food Bank and for CW Eats, a food program at Centre Wellington District High School.
And the Soup-off feeds nicely into that theme.
Soupmakers can enter in one of three categories – youth, amateur and professional – and on Oct. 9 they head to the Wellington County Museum and Archives to make their soup.
In recognition of the rising cost of ingredients, each soupmaker will receive a $50 honorarium to help cover the cost of their dishes. Each soup maker makes 20 litres of soup.
Doors open to the public from 1 to 4pm and then the tasting begins. Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for youth and $50 for a famly.
Then you eat soup, listen to some music, and vote for your favourite. At the end of the time, the ballots will be counted and the “Super Souper” will be named.
Maddison Galloway and Jiggity James are the musicians for this edition of the soup-off.
“It’s quite a good afternoon,” McElwain said, adding the patio is open when the weather is warm enough and that really makes the event special.
Along with the soup-off is the Empty Bowls Project. This is a national initiative, but locally Sensational Elora has taken it on.
Bowls created and donated by local potters will be offered for sale for $25 each. Proceeds go to CW Eats.
McElwain said many of the soup makers return year after year but it’s not a lock on who will win.
Also on Thanksgiving weekend, Sensational Elora is hosting Pumpkin Day in Bissell Park.
This is also a longstanding tradition and a popular pairing with the Elora Farmer’s Market. This year Pumpkin Day is Oct. 7 from 9:30 to 1pm.
And again, to reflect the growing cultural diversity in Centre Wellington, there will be an African drumming circle, led by Babarinde Williams, where attendees can participate. Tribal Vision, an Indigenous dance group, will also perform.
Blue Bonnet Lassies will be back, there will be a reptile show, face painting, a professional pumpkin carver, and families can also carve a pumpkin.
Pumpkin Day is free but attendees are asked to bring donations for the food bank.
For more information or to learn how to become involved in Sensational Elora events, visit sensationalelora.com.