No foolin’!

April Foolies packs the house and raises a record at annual event

Who says you can’t make great money making a fool of yourself?

The 2010 April Foolies raised a record amount of money for three charities with high-spirited, fun acts, “corrupt” judges and a hand-clapping, toe-tapping generous audience that put more than $5,000 in bribery buckets the night of the performance.

“It was awesome,” New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center executive director Trudy Hughes said. “You couldn’t have asked for anything better, even though it was our first year to be in the Clayton Center.”

Hughes said Foolies has always been fortunate to have locations at Maryville College where they can hold the show. In years past it was held in Wilson Chapel, then Alumni Gym. “We’ve always been fortunate with locations at Maryville College and the Clayton Center proved to be another excellent one,” she said. “We were sold out ticket-wise and looking at the seats, they were filled pretty close to capacity. Being in the Alumni Gym last year with a 650-person capacity, we weren’t sure how many seats we would fill at the main auditorium, so seeing the majority of seats filled was an awesome feeling.”

Days after the event preliminary figures put fundraising totals well beyond what they were hoping to achieve. “We had hoped we would make $22,000. There maybe ticket money still out but we were at $24,300 so we’re a good $2,000-plus over our goal and there may be more funds yet to come,” she said. “I think that is phenomenal.”

A short time later co-chair Edward Harper contacted Blount Today and put the exact total raised at $25,200. “All I can say is it was the greatest Foolies ever, and it took a village of idiots to make it happen,” he said. “I want to say the biggest of thank-you to the community.”

Hughes said those who attended not only generated funds by buying tickets but by “bribing” the judges. “Part of how they encouraged the judges was in the bribe buckets. Last year, bribe buckets brought in $2,500, and this year it was more than $5,800, so clearly folks attending not only generated by coming out but they brought additional money to donate,” she said. “That is way more than double what we had last year.”

Hughes said this is the first year The Gate has joined with New Hope and United Way as beneficiaries of the event. “I can’t think of better agency to join in the collaboration. United Way and New Hope are better for having them collaborate with us,” she said. “Blount County is really showing how supportive it is of various agencies in the community.”

Harper said the venue was a good one for the event. “The only thing that inhibited the intimacy was the balcony. We wish we could have gotten to balcony more, and perhaps next year we’ll send more representatives up there, but the Clayton Center lends itself to intimacy. The acoustics are wonderful,” he said.

The seventh annual April Foolies was the final year for Harper and Leslie Rader as co-chairs of the event. “I want to say thank you to Leslie Rader. She has been wonderful to work with,” he said. “The whole idea of Follies from beginning to now is community- driven and shows the caring of the community.”

Signature sponsors for the event were Alcoa, Inc., Blount Today and Burkhalter & Associates, PC.

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