More than football to be served up at fundraiser event

Published 12:11 am Sunday, January 25, 2015

VIDALIA — Local organizations are ready to kick off the Super Bowl with some soup on the side.

Operation GRITS for Soldiers and Home With Heroes Foundation Inc. are hosting the first Soup-er Bowl Cook-Off Saturday — all of which will benefit U.S. soldiers who fight for their country.

“I love making soup, and I love the Super Bowl,” said Home With Heroes President Mark LaFrancis. “So I thought Operation GRITS and Home With Heroes could join forces in a fun, tasty fundraiser while capitalizing on the excitement of the Super Bowl.”

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The cook-off will take place from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center Saturday, the day before the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks clash in Super Bowl XLIX.

The cook-off will be a joint venture between Vidalia’s GRITS program and Natchez’s Home With Heroes.

“With something like this, there’s strength and bonds in the mission that we have,” LaFrancis said.

GRITS chief organizer Pattie Reed Jones said it’s a way of joining Vidalia and Natchez.

“This is a good way to join two organizations from opposite sides of the river to do something for our men and women who serve in our military,” Jones said.

The cook-off will feature a variety of soups cooked by professionals and non-professionals.

Those who attend will be given tickets and a tasting kit, which can be used to vote for the winner.

Jones said the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center are donating the building as an act of patriotism for the cook-off.

“(The City of Vidalia) is veteran and solider friendly,” LaFrancis said.

During the cook-off, participating teams can decorate their booth in a patriotic or Super Bowl theme, but that’s only a portion of the excitement.

Youth from 17 and under will be able to cook one soup for free,” LaFrancis said.

Also during the cook-off, a raffle drawing will take place for a squirrel hunt and two patriotic statues. Several activities for children will also be organized as well.

A professional and amateur team entry fee is $100 — entering as a professional individual is $50 — and entering as an amateur individual is $10.

Adult competitors can enter up to three soups. Each soup must have enough for 100 half-cup taste kits. Entry deadlines are Thursday.

Admission is $5 for adults — $3 for children 12 to 8 years old — and free for children 7 and under.

Walk in contestants will be allowed.

Cooks can prepare ingredients but the soup must be substantially cooked at the event. Gumbo will be allowed as a soup.

Cooks must also bring all cooking and serving items.

Prizes will be awarded for first through third place winners in each division.

For entry forms or for more information, contact Jones at 601-807-6470 or LaFrancis at 601-597-4268 and visit Operation GRITS and Home With Heroes Facebook pages.