In the winter of 1990, Youth Villages’ supporters and the owners of some of the Mid-South’s best restaurants began to develop the idea of a fundraiser to help children with emotional and behavioral problems.
The original event organizers, Danny Sumrall and Mike Warr, brought the idea to Memphis after a similar event in Little Rock. After three decades, thousands of gallons of soup, and almost a million dollars raised, Soup Sunday is still going strong.
The first Soup Sunday was held in February 1990 at Captain Bilbo’s in downtown Memphis. The inaugural event was an immediate success, drawing hundreds of participants. Before long, it was one of the area’s favorite events and was moved to the larger Woodland Hills in Cordova, Tenn. Event staples like the Oreo-stacking contest, the Doctor’s Band, and of course, the area’s best soups made Soup Sunday one of the hottest tickets in town.
Starving for space, the event moved to the Pyramid in 2001. The Pyramid served as a great venue for three years and provided a great location to make a major addition to Soup Sunday, the VIP Souper Party, which was added in 2002.
Once the FedExForum opened, Soup Sunday moved to take advantage of the larger space. Besides providing a top quality venue to watch concerts, professional and college sports, and other specialty events, FedExForum became the new home of Soup Sunday in 2004.
Many people have put in significant hours of service over the past 29 years. From the event founders, Danny and Mike, and the late Thomas Boggs, and on to Tom Cassidy, Elizabeth Cagle, and Libby Wyatt, the spirit of service has always been a part of Soup Sunday. In fact, Youth Villages CEO Pat Lawler noted at a recent Soup Sunday that “we have more volunteers helping us run Soup Sunday today than we had paying customers in the early years.” In fact, the event has grown so large that it now requires 200 volunteers to coordinate all of the day’s activities.
We thank everyone who has volunteered for this event over the years. It could not have happened without you.