Soup For You

Dan Larson, Findley Lake board of trustees, ladles soup last Sunday as part of the annual soupfest event in Findley Lake. A record amount of money was raised. Photo by David Prenatt

FINDLEY LAKE — The chicken wing soup ran out by 12:30 p.m. and the broccoli cheese was not far behind.

Hungry diners thronged to the annual Alexander Findley Community Library Soupfest on Jan. 21 in Findley Lake. According to Nancy Roche, president of the library board of trustees and event organizer, the community response was much greater than expected.

“It was pretty busy from 11:30 on,” Roche said, referring to the time that the soupfest began. “I couldn’t be happier with the response and everything that happened. It was awesome.”

The Soupfest, a library fundraiser for nearly 20 years, features donated specialty soups and other goodies from community members and local businesses. There is no charge to eat and all proceeds are raised strictly through donations.

At the end of the day, Roche estimated that more than 130 people came to the soupfest. The final tally for donations was not complete, but more than $800 was raised. Roche said she believes both figures are records for the Soupfest.

The soupfest has been an annual event for the Alexander Findley Community Library for about 20 years. Around 130 people attended the event this year. Photo by David Prenatt

People came from the Findley Lake area, especially after the local churches let out. But there were also people from Corry, Pa., North East, Pa., and even Jamestown, Roche said.

There was not much left over at the end of the day, Roche said. “There was very little to send home,” she said. “We had three people bring huge salads and they were gone. We had 10 loaves of bread from the French Creek Store that we cut into 15 pieces and they were gone.”

Board vice-president Dan Larson, who was ladling the soup from the large pots, has volunteered at the soupfest for the past five years. “This is the busiest I have ever seen it,” he said.

Library board member Lynn McGill said this was her first year taking part in the soupfest. “I had no idea what to expect,” she said. “But this is wonderful. I love the library.”

More than 10 volunteers worked fast and furious throughout the day to keep the soup coming. Former board president Dan Elliason “just came for the soup,” he said, but then pitched in to help. “I saw there was a need and just jumped in.”

Roche said she was amazed by the community response.

“I have no idea why it was so successful, possibly the weather and we had more advertising this year,” she said. She credited McGill, who got the event advertised on television websites, as well as Toby Alquist and Sherrie Beckwith, who promoted it on Facebook.

The Soupfest serves a deeper purpose than just a good meal, Roche said. “It’s not just that we have soup. It’s that people come and talk and visit. It’s about a community event. That’s the priority – so they can gather and socialize,” she said

This year’s menu includes Crab & Bacon Chowder from Alexander’s; Broccoli, Chicken, Cheese Soup from Bistro 210 at Peek ‘n’ Peak; French Onion Soup from the French Creek Tavern; Stuffed Pepper Soup from Joanne Malecki; Chili from Nelson Harper; and Chicken Wing Soup from Pine Junction.

Homemade breads were provided by the French Creek Store, and the tossed salad, desserts, and beverages were donated by members of the board and Findley Lake community members.

Special desserts were be donated by Judy Hunt, Judy Miller, Shauna Dobson, Joanne Malecki, and others.

Even though donations are entirely voluntary, the Soupfest has long been a good fund-raiser for the library. Library Director Melissa Froah said about 90 people attended last year’s Soupfest and the library netted over $600 in donations.

Froah said she believes the board of trustees and volunteers look forward to the event.

“I think they enjoy being in the kitchen and serving,” she added.