For one night in Blount County, votes are for sale.
When the fifth annual April Foolies talent show takes the stage at Wilson Chapel, Maryville College, on Saturday, March 31, contestants can buy their way to fame and glory.
"Were back to basic bribery," said April Foolies committee chair Edward Harper. "This is not based on talent. Were back to our bribed judges."
April Foolies started as a fund raiser for Success by 6. Now New Hope Childrens Advocacy Center and the Helen Ross McNabb ChildNet are also beneficiaries of the shenanigans that happen on stage, including the bribery.
"Each act pays a $300 entry fee, performs, and the audience can bribe the judges to choose their favorite as the winner," said Harper.
United Way associate of community impact and Success by 6 coordinator Jessica Wallace said there will be "bribe buckets" for each act. The audience is encouraged to come forward after each act and fill the buckets with bills. Before a winner is determined, the money in the buckets is counted.
"No bribe is too small," Harper said.
April Foolies is being put together by a group of community workers, not by the agencies, Harper stressed. "We have no budget. Everything comes out of our back pocket, as far as getting everything together. But the money, every penny of it, goes to these three agencies."
Donations of goods, food and in-kind services help, Wallace said. Event organizers are still recruiting sponsors.
Sponsorships are split into three categories. Donations of $300 are
considered Fools; donations of up to $500 are called Big
Fools and donations of up to $1,000 or more are labeled Biggest Fool on the Block.
So far on the list are: Biggest Fools of the Block -- Blount Today, Blount Memorial Food Services and Charter Media; and Big Fools -- Rep. Doug Overbey, Alcoa, Inc., and Blount Memorial Foundation.
According to Wallace, the event is put on by people who want to help the Blount County residents through the three agencies that benefit from the April Foolies. "Thats how it started and were going to have fun in the process. We raise the awareness of these three agencies, and we raise money and have fun," she said.
Walker Johnson of Maryville will serve as master of ceremonies. Sammy Sawyer, a.k.a. Barney Fife, also will be on hand, Wallace said.
Johnson has been a judge at April Foolies and now moves up to MC. Harper said, "We have a hometown boy who has a great personality, is fun to work with and guaranteed to bring a laugh." In addition, "Barney" will keep things rolling between acts with his antics, Harper said.
Several acts will be returning and a few new ones also will take the stage. Bufords Atomic Outhouse Rockabilly Band will appear, as will former Maryville College professor Jerry Pietenpol.
Last years winner was Funk-a-licious with Mike White and Ralph Goodson as Danny and Sandy from "Grease."
"One of our favorite acts of the Foolies has been Mike Everett of Mike Everetts Hair Studio because nobody ever knows what he is going to come up with," Harper said. Although he hasnt signed up yet, Harper said, "Were putting the pressure on him in the print!"
Wallace said another basis for each acts score is how many tickets each act sells. This gives each act the opportunity to get a head start on fund raising. "You need to support your favorite act and buy tickets from them," she said.
Wallace said the show is a creative way to raise money to support critical services for Blount Countys children and the people who are involved with them. The Foolies, she said, is all about fun and also a time for the community "to think about what the agencies do," she said.
Harper said the supporters and participants have a fun time helping a serious cause. "We will have fun. If you show up, and youre miserable, well refund your misery," he said.
On Feb. 9, Foolies Night at Southland Books was a preview for the April Foolies. The event helped pay the entry fee for Bufords Atomic Outhouse Rockabilly Band.
Another warm up for the big night is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 22 at Sullivans Downtown when Pistol Creek Catch of the Day will participate in the April Foolies Preview Night. The event is free, but tickets will be available that night for the show.
April Foolies is scheduled for Saturday, March 31, at Wilson Chapel on the Maryville College Campus. A $5 dinner is available beginning at 5:30 p.m. Dinner includes a hamburger or hotdog, a drink and chips.
The show is from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is $5 for students and seniors and $10 for everybody else.
Tickets can be purchased at Blount Today, 318 S. Washington Street in the Law Building; United Way at 1615 East Broadway Avenue, Maryville; at the Preview Party at Sullivans on March 22; or from a favorite act. For information, call 865-982-2251.