PHOTO GALLERY: Hundreds partake in Empty Bowls fundraiser for Natchez Stewpot

Published 11:26 am Tuesday, March 7, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Around 400 Empty Bowls patrons didn’t go hungry Sunday while supporting Natchez Stewpot at the bi-annual fundraiser.

Beginning in 2003 by local potter Conner Burns and the students of Natchez Clay, the fundraiser has reached its 11th year in Natchez. However, potters internationally developed Empty Bowls to help communities feed the hungry.

As they do every year, tickets quickly sold out to the event, which entails picking out a handcrafted clay bowl to taste piping hot gumbo on the Natchez Bluff.

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YZ Ealey entertained from the gazebo on the gorgeous Sunday afternoon as hundreds of attendees got chatty while selecting which bowl to take home.

Typically, a bowl of gumbo only feeds one person. However, each bowl, handmade by potters both from Natchez and from other places, was donated and tickets sold at $30 each so that 100 percent of proceeds benefit the Natchez Stewpot to help them to feed hundreds of hungry people every day, including weekends and holidays.

In addition to 350 tickets sold, 85 sponsors donated $125 or more to have their names put into a drawing for one of five beautiful handmade pieces to encourage a new generation of support for the event, said potter Donna Jones.

Others walked up and made additional donations and purchased bowls after the 350 ticketholders took home their picks, said Stewpot Director Marcus Archer.

“People were quite generous,” he said. “Some made much larger donations. With food costs becoming so high, no one feels like they have too much money for food.”

There are always more bowls than tickets sold, as they are made by people locally as well as donated by potters from other places.

“We don’t have very many local potters and sadly some of our potters have moved away or passed away. We put a call out on social media and we got 103 bowls donated to us by people from private studios around Baton Rouge and New Orleans and other places. Ohio was the furthest. We’re so grateful to them because they helped us up the number of bowls we put out on display so that everyone felt they have a wide selection to choose from. Feeding the hungry is so important to so many people. Everyone made their bowls, glazed and fired them and mailed them at their own expense. We didn’t have to twist anybody’s arm for anything.”

At least 500 bowls were put on display altogether and some will be used year after next, Jones said.

“We had a fabulous turnout. I’ve done every single Empty Bowls event and this is the most bowls we’ve ever had.”

Archer expressed gratitude for Alan Richard, who made gumbo for every ticketholder there, as well as former Stewpot director and potter Amanda Jeansonne, Burns, Jones, Patricia Huffines, and the many others who contributed their time and effort to the event as well as those who donated money to help the cause.

“It’s a group effort,” he said.

For those who missed out Sunday and would like to contribute to Natchez Stewpot, donations can always be made at

Archer said the Stewpot is also always in need of volunteers, especially delivery drivers.

We deliver six days a week and there are three routes that take an hour or an hour and a half each. Delivery drivers are always a need,” he said.

For more information call (601) 442-9413 or email