When Beardsley Community Farm manager Khann Chov sat down with former farm manager Ben Epperson six years ago to come up with ways for the farm to raise money, they knew they wanted to bring people together during the winter. "The winter months are the slowest for us," Chov says.
And what better way to entice people than with music and hot, farm-fresh food?
"We thought that soup would be the easiest way to feed a lot of people on a cold day," Chov says, adding that it also makes for a pretty cost-effective meal. And that's how the community farm's annual Snow Day fund-raiser was born.
The first year Snow Day was held, Chov says, it cost a grand total of $50. Six years later, she says, it's a much more involved process. About 100 people are on board to volunteer, cook the meal, emcee, and sponsor the event this year, and about 800 people are expected to attend. Local chefs will compete in a soup-off, which will provide the evening's meal. Chov offered this glimpse at the menu, which will include about six soups and plenty of bread to go with it: Tupelo Honey Cafe will make a cheesy onion bisque, Gourmet's Market will serve a curried butternut squash bisque, and Good Golly Tamale will cook up a corn chowder. In addition to the lineup of seven local music acts (Marina Orchestra, Hudson K, Jamie Cook and Blue South, Greg Horne, Sarah Morgan, Four Leaf Peat, and Jodie Manross) and the silent auction (which raises about 40 percent of the night's funds, Chov says), the beard pageant will return for the third year. The pageant has two categories: homegrown beards and homemade beards (for the knitters and crocheters).
"We had kind of joked about growing a beard for Beardsley," Chov says. "We also thought it would go with the winter theme. It's been a really fun part of the night."
Snow Day helps Beardsley raise about 15 percent of the farm's year's operating budget, and the money raised goes to cover expenses like hay for the chicken coop, chicken and plant feed, the water and electric bills, and rent.
"The expenses add up quickly," Chov says. "Beardsley needs the community. We wouldn't be able to continue without [Snow Day]."
The goal this year? "$10,000 is a pretty good goal for us," Chov says.
Snow Day 2014 is Friday, Jan. 24, at Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are available online now at for $10, which includes admission and soup. At the door, admission will be $10, and soup will be $5.