While the World’s Largest Soup Kettle is no longer in use, it still stands as a symbol of a small town’s annual tradition of sharing community and free soup.
Started in the 1920’s by the local Russell family, the “Community Soup” was held on one Sunday a year when the family would invite the entire community to enjoy some free soup at their cabin. Initially, the family was serving just over 300 people, the number of attendees soon grew and with it, the size of the soup kettle. The tradition continued every August and by the 1950’s the festival was operated by the local Lions club.
Still, the folks of Laona Wisconsin gather around at Silver Lake Beach for the “Community Soup,” no longer prepared in the World’s Largest Soup Kettle but in much smaller cooking containers, where residents provide the ingredients for a vegetable soup and everyone must bring their own bowl for a free taste.
Today the gigantic soup kettle moved from an area logging camp, stands in the town as a symbol of the local tradition. The grey steel pot, at seven feet in circumference and three feet deep, is one of many testaments to the area’s rich history, but mainly their unstoppable love of soup.