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Thursday, 17 October 2013 14:08

In the Soup Again—and Loving It!


Fifth Annual Soup ‘r’ Bands will Rock Roaring Brook Saturday.

 LAKE GEORGE—What’s the secret to a great event?

Thanks to assistance from some incredibly giving people, I have learned the recipe and have permission to share it with you. 

Here are the ingredients:

- Soups and chowders from 34 restaurants, derived from a wide geographic area that spans from Saratoga Springs to North Creek

- Nine of the area’s most talented and popular bands spread liberally over two stages

- Assorted miscellaneous optional beverages

- A wonderful resort setting centrally located and in full foliage flowering

- One great cause.

Once you assemble these ingredients, the directions are simple:

1)      Combine all into one great evening

2)     Shake, shake, shake till you can shake no more

3)     Consume liberally with friends

Should you not fancy yourself a master chef capable of pulling off a recipe of this magnitude, I have even better news. The Roaring Brook Ranch has it all prepared for you this Saturday night and you can tout your buds and BFF’s to this with confidence: They have perfected this particular recipe for five years and have the lineage and pedigree for this sort of thing for decades.

The short course is that the fifth annual Soup ‘r’ Bands to benefit autism awareness will take place from 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, October 19 at the Roaring Brook Ranch, located just off Northway Exit 21 in Lake George. Admission to the event is $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Advance will call tickets can be secured by calling Andrea Jacobs-Merlow at (518) 744-8952.

The beneficiaries of this event are organizations that are dedicated to helping local children and families affected by autism. One hundred percent of the proceeds will be divided among three local non-profits: Upstate New York Autism Awareness Association and the Autism Task Forces in both Greenwich and Hadley-Luzerne.

Andrea, who is the resort’s events planner, has been in charge of stirring the soup, if you will, and is uniquely suited to run this event. One of this year’s recipients of a “20 under 40” leadership award from the Post Star, she epitomizes the term multi-tasker. She also teaches French at Greenwich Central School and has worked at Siro’s for several summers, which gives her a prime view of many of the area’s leading bands.

“The task each year is to make a great event even bigger and better.” She said.

To that end, the bands have increased from three the first year to nine. On Saturday’s roster are several regional favorites, including the Audiostars, Rich Ortiz, Groove Therapy, Radio Junkies and Tim Wechgelaer and his quartet. This has necessitated opening up a second room (The Powder Horn Saloon) to accommodate the extra bands and so Tim Wechgelaer was asked to run the sound for the Powder Horn in addition to his band set.

“I was more than happy to say yes to Andrea,” Tim said. “She’s an easy person to say yes to.”

Tim is also uniquely qualified to maximize the sound in the space.

“I’ve been working with Andrea and her family for many years, and have run the sound in that room for the annual Bands and Beans benefit for several years now. So I know a lot of the nooks and crannies.”

The enhancements extend to the soup sampling area as well. Not only have the number of participating restaurants grown over the event’s five years, but they get to compete for your vote. As with Bands and Beans, when you enter the event, you are given three chips to bestow upon your favorite restaurants. Scoring in the top five has always been a cherished designation, but this year Andrea has a special prize for the “best in show.”

The NHL has its Stanley Cup. In that spirit, this year the top vote getter will triumphantly hoist the soon to-be-iconic “golden ladle.” Capacity: 14 ounces.

“I painted it gold myself.” Andrea notes, leaving no detail undetailed.

Everyone has different reasons to get involved. For Sal Ianni, owner of Mama Riso’s in Lake George, it’s personal.

“My 13-year-old boy is autistic, so naturally it was easy to say yes to this from the beginning. We do get asked to contribute to a lot of things as you can imagine. But what I think is admirable is how much of the proceeds get to the people who really need it,” Sal said.

Another restaurateur who will be sending soup down with his people from Warrensburg is Tom Grace, owner of Lizzie Keays. “We go every year and I’m happy Andrea asked us to participate. It’s nice to help out at such a worthy event. It’s a great opportunity for my people to network with our colleagues in the region, since we’re way up North most of the year.”

I asked Tom if he had a goal in mind for the event. I was anticipating an answer like a top five vote, or perhaps a dream about bringing the cherished “big spoon” back to Warrensburg for a parade down Main Street but he took it out another door.

“Honestly,” Tom said, “I’d just like to go once. We have a small staff and they love this event so much that they practically leave me by myself here.”

Well, you of course have no such restrictions. Time to go—soup’s on!





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