The Golden Ladle has a new home.
Chef Bunnie Bowen and her team took home the trophy Sunday at the 21st Soup R Bowl, the annual fundraiser for the Humane Society of the High Plains.
She's participated in the fundraiser for approximately 15 years, helping out organizations such as Hays Arts Council, a golden retriever club and Friends of the Hays Dog Park.
This year, representing her dog grooming business Fur is Flying and the Daughters of the American Revolution, she made a creamy Reuben soup for the taste-testing contest at the Ellis County Fairgrounds.
“In December, we made four different kinds of soups and did a taste-off, and this is the one that won,” she said.
It won over the visitors, too. For a $7 donation, participants received a small bowl and spoon to sample 12 soups. They voted for their favorites with tickets dropped into cans at each station.
The Fort Hays State University Athletics Department came in third with a local favorite, green bean dumpling soup, and Coldwell Banker Executive Realty was second with ham, bean and dumpling soup.
With four-time winners Doug and Cathy Pfannenstiel of Auto World sitting out this year, the Golden Ladle trophy was up for grabs.
“We decided to take a break and enjoy it,” Doug said.
“I’m flattered to have won the Golden Ladle because there’s a lot of good soups out here,” he said.
Patty Stull of Coldwell Banker said she had a lot of fun working with her agents on making their soup.
“It was so amazing spending time with my agents. We just had a great day,” she said.
While many entrants were excited at the thought of someone new getting the trophy, they agreed the day is not about the prize.
“You’ve gotta give back. You win by giving,” Stull said.
“Win or lose, it’s all about the animals,” Bowen said.
Bowen said the day the humane society approached her about participating again this year, she had just groomed a Great Dane from the shelter that later was adopted.
“Sometimes they will bring me an animal to freshen up to make it more marketable,” she said.
“How can you say no when you see the work they do with the animals?”
The Soup R Bowl is the biggest fundraiser for the local animal shelter, said board member Alicia Tripler.
In 2017, the shelter took in 1,100 small animals — mostly dogs and cats — and found homes for more than 1,000, she said.
“So we were able to provide medical care, shelter for those animals and help them find adoptive homes, but we need the money from the donations in order to provide that medical care and spay and neuter services and any other services the animal might need,” she said.