empty bowls projecT
Now in its 26th year and getting stronger!
The Dripping Springs Empty Bowls Project has evolved over more than two decades to become the largest annual fundraiser for Helping Hands! The benefit accounts for 60% of Helping Hands annual budget.
So how did the first fundraiser make it to tiny Dripping Springs in 1997? Bill and Bridget Hauser, owners of Sunset Canyon Pottery, were familiar with other national empty bowl projects and decided it was something they wanted to do for their community. Dripping Springs Helping Hands had already been operating for 11 years when the Hausers saw the need to support the food pantry. It was a natural fit for Bill and Bridget... they produced ceramic bowls and the bowls needed "filling."
In the beginning, Bill and Bridget planned every detail, cooked all the soups, handcrafted hundreds of bowls and hosted the event at their studio gallery, Sunset Canyon Pottery. Even in the early years, they enlisted graphic artists to design attractive posters to lure attendees.
As the event took hold, the Hausers recruited restaurant owners Lisa and Emmett Fox who today own ASTI's. Emmet and Lisa were successful in persuading other chefs in Austin to support the food pantry in Dripping Springs. Gradually, more local leaders came on board to help guide the project as it continued to grow. By the time the Hausers retired in 2016, they, with help from The Art Garage Austin, were making 1,000 bowls each year for the event! And that number represented the Empty Bowls Project's growing popularity in the community.
Sunset Canyon Pottery was home to the event for 17 years. With parking and space issues, the event was moved to Mercer Street Dance Hall (then on Mercer Street) for the next two years. It was an ideal location that attracted more people and engaged downtown businesses. However, inclement weather became an increasingly big concern and pouring rains on the day of the event caused a reduction in attendance.
The Dripping Springs Ranch Park was available and had all the elements needed: indoor seating, ample space, ample parking and even a real kitchen! Since 2017, the Park has been home to the event that is still so dearly loved by the community.
Since the Hausers retired, more than 20 potters have stepped up to make bowls. With such a variety, patrons, some of whom have never missed an annual event, have an opportunity to expand their collections and learn about other ceramists in the greater area.
In 2020, the 23rd Annal Empty Bowls Project took a turn in history when it was delivered to patrons through an engaging virtual format due to COVID-19. We were extremely fortunate that the virtual event was successful!
We are happy to announce that, after two years, the 2022 Empty Bowls Project returned in-person. Our guests enjoyed selecting their bowls and soups, sipping on beer and wine from our local breweries and wineries, listening to fabulous musicians, and spending time with friends and family.