The Open Door  
Julie LaFontaine, President and CEO  
28 Emerson Ave.,  
Gloucester, MA 01930  

Media Contact: Kelsey Richards 
Phone: 978-283-6776 x 226 

Tuesday April 16, 2024 

Step Right Up: The Open Door to Hold Showstopper Empty Bowl Circus, Auction 

From left: The Open Door volunteers Jeff and Nancy McKeen at Empty Bowl 2023.
(Photo Courtesy of The Open Door) 

GLOUCESTER— The Open Door’s annual Empty Bowl fundraiser brings a one-of-a-kind circus-themed marvel to Cruiseport next week, all in the name of raising funds to connect local people to good, healthy food this summer. 

WHEN: Wednesday, April 24 from 4-8 p.m.  

WHERE: Cruiseport Gloucester 

6 Rowe Square, Gloucester MA 01930 

WHAT: A circus-themed fundraiser to remember, proceeds from The Open Door Empty Bowl Circus will support the nonprofit’s summer food resource programs including Summer Meals for Kids and Mobile Market.  

The Open Door has partnered with Seaside Circus Cape Ann to feature circus performers at the event. Attendees will walk through the doors at Cruiseport and be transported to a colorful spectacle featuring skilled performers, and vibrant displays of bowls hand-painted by community members.  

“Empty Bowl Circus and our online artists bowls auction reflect a unique kinship of the arts and the vibrant, neighbors-helping-neighbors community here on Cape Ann,” President and CEO Julie LaFontaine said. “We saw a 30 percent increase in requests for food assistance last year, and so any and all support is a huge help to fuel our summer hunger-relief programs.” 

In 2023, The Open Door helped stabilize the lives and health of 9,836 people from 4,952 households through the distribution of 1.98 million pounds of food

Participants on Wednesday, April 24 will choose a hand-painted bowl, and take home soup and bread to-go from a local restaurant, caterer, or The Open Door kitchen. Cookies, fruit, and water will also be available to-go. 

Online Artists’ Bowls Auction 

An online auction featuring bowls painted by local artists is also live at through Sunday, May 5 at midnight. The auction is held in conjunction with the Empty Bowl event each year to raise funds for The Open Door’s summer hunger-relief programs.  

Local artists who donated bowls to the auction this year include Chris Williams, David Montgomery, Captain Sam Nigro, Betty Lou Schlemm, Jeff Weaver, Ted Bidwell, Mary Salerno, James Watson, Kevin Ellis, Nina Testaverde Goodick, Barbe Ennis, Anni Melançon, David Archibald, Gina Russo, Marty Morgan, Miranda Thomas, Tom Howlett, Pat Baker, Leon Doucette and Melissa Cooper, Danette English, Suze Collinson, Susan J. Schrader, Sandy Shaw, John Early, Marilyn Swift, Mari Bergeron, Scott Tubby, Deb Schradieck, Bill Stevens, Sara Collins, Ronald Pouliot, Karen Ellis, Natalie Daley, Pauline Bresnahan, Hannah Morris, Ann Ziergiebel, Mi Robertson, Sinikka Nogelo, Jayn Gardner, Peter Sinard, Mary Lee, Miranda Aisling, Evelyn Stewart, Britta Magnuson, Mayor Greg Verga, and State Sen. Bruce Tarr. 

For more information visit  

About The Open Door  

The mission of The Open Door is to alleviate the impact of hunger in our community. We use practical strategies to connect people to good food, to advocate on behalf of those in need, and to engage others in the work of building food security. 

Founded in 1978, The Open Door is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit and community food resource center for low-income residents of Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, Essex, Ipswich, Hamilton, Boxford, Rowley, Topsfield, and Wenham. In 2023, The Open Door helped stabilize the lives and health of 9,836 people from 4,952 households through the distribution of 1.98 million pounds of food. 

For more information, visit 


Mussels, a welded-bronze sculpture by Chris Williams available for bid through The Open Door Empty Bowl Artists’ Bowls Online auction.

(Photo Courtesy of The Open Door)
Schooners by James Watson. (Photo Courtesy of The Open Door) 
Fish by Miranda Thomas. (Photo Courtesy of The Open Door)
Jonah Crab by Jeff Weaver. (Photo Courtesy of The Open Door)
The Incoming Tide by David Montgomery.
(Photo Courtesy of The Open Door)
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