CANTON  It’s becoming a tradition in Stark County to celebrate the Super Bowl the weekend before the big game by stopping by the "Souper Bowl," hosted every year by Mercy Service League. Instead of beer and pizza, the Souper Bowl offers beer and other libations and hot delicious soups.

Now in its fourth year, Mercy Service League holds the annual fundraiser the Sunday before the big game. Attendance this year topped last year. More than 167 people stopped by the Meyer’s Lake Ballroom to enjoy all-you-could-eat soup and desserts.

Six local restaurants and five catering companies offered a variety of soups such as stuffed green pepper, lobster bisque with caviar cream, southwestern roasted corn and chicken chowder and kielbasa chili. Three local schools, including Jackson, had their culinary classes mix up delicious desserts including mini-cupcakes, lemon meringue shooters and white chocolate peanut butter cheesecake with chocolate ganache topping for the event.

Wendy Lichtenwalter, chair of the event, came up with the sports theme after the service league decided to end its craft themed fundraiser. She said the idea to have an event the weekend before Super Bowl weekend led to the Souper Bowl idea.

This is the second year the proceeds will go to the Mercy Facility Transformation Phase 1: 5th Floor Orthopedic/Observation Unit. In addition to the hot soups, the event offered a silent auction, cork pull, cornhole games and a cash bar.

"We opened a second room this year at the Meyers Lake Ballroom so that we had more room for soups and diners," said Elaine Campbell, director of Mercy Development Foundation. "Our presale tickets have already gone over the attendance from last year. Plus, we added a cornhole game and more tables," she said.

High school students from Central Catholic and St. Thomas were volunteering and keeping the tables clean and delivering rolls to the diners. Many people wore football jerseys and t-shirts from their favorite teams. Campbell said organizers were hoping to raise more money this year with the expanded event.

"Last year, we raised $6,000 and we’re hoping to raise more than that this year. We’re hoping for a great turnout and hope that everyone enjoys the great food and has a good time," Campbell said.

Some of the eateries serving soup were Fishers Catering Company, Gabe’s Meat and Deli, Metz Culinary Mercy Medical Catering, Basil, Main Street Grille, Dog Daze Hot Dogs, Kozmo’s Grille, Tim’s Tavern and Samantha’s Restaurant on Portage Street. Along with Jackson, Canton South, McKinley all had culinary classes at the event serving desserts.

Mercy Service League supports the ideals and philosophies of Mercy Medical Center and the ministry of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine through friendship, fellowship and fundraising. Members provide service, outreach and education to Mercy and the community.