Annual Mardi Gras Ball for schools is Feb. 25

By Carrie Sutton | Feb 13, 2017
The Haywood County Schools Foundation's Mardi Gras Ball is the non-profit's largest fundraiser of the year. The money raised at the event is used for scholarships, teacher grants, and teacher recruitment and retention.

The ninth annual Haywood County Schools Foundation Mardi Gras Ball will begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at Laurel Ridge Country Club, 49 Cupp Lane, Waynesville.

The race for this year’s king and queen is well underway, and candidates have already been seen around the county petitioning for donations for the Haywood County Schools Foundation.

The Mardi Gras Ball, sponsored by Entegra Bank, is the Haywood County Schools Foundation’s largest fundraiser of the year. Since 2008, the event has raised more than $320,000 for the Haywood County Schools Foundation.

Last year’s fundraiser alone brought in more than $71,000 in donations, thanks to the reigning Mardi Gras King Rick Webb and Queen Jane Hipps.

Each year, dedicated community members volunteer to run as candidates for the Mardi Gras court in an effort to raise money for the students, schools and employees of the 15 Haywood County Public Schools.

This year’s king candidate is Nathan Lowe, owner of Southern Porch in Canton and BKL Boards, a custom cornhole board company.

Queen candidates include Becca Swanger, deputy director of services and a children’s therapist for Meridian Behavioral Health Services; Liz Henley, market manager for physician practices at Haywood Regional Medical Center; and Joretta Ezell, founding member of Encouraging Word Baptist Church.

The male and female candidate who raise the most money throughout the month of February are crowned king and queen of the Mardi Gras Ball. All money raised from the competition and at the Mardi Gras Ball on Feb. 25 is used for student scholarships, teacher recruitment and retention, and to fund grants for Haywood County teachers to purchase classroom supplies and attend training and workshops.

To purchase tickets, make a donation to a candidate’s fundraiser, or to make a donation to the Haywood County Schools Foundation, contact Haywood County Schools Foundation Executive Director Jenny Wood Valliere at or 828.456.2400 ext 2117.

Make donations online via PayPal at Be sure to enter the name of the candidate you would like to support in the notes section.

The Haywood County Schools Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization whose purpose is to make available to students and faculty members of Haywood County Public Schools educational opportunities not normally available through regular public funding sources. Last year, the Haywood County Schools Foundation presented $176,450 in scholarships to more than 100 high school seniors, and awarded $208,000 in grants to teachers, schools, and students. The Haywood County Schools Foundation is committed to the children, schools and employees of Haywood County Public Schools. That commitment is made possible through generous donations and efforts by members of the community. For more information, visit

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