By Deena C. Bouknight, Contributing Writer
A step inside Root + Barrel Kitchen Tuesday evening, March 5, had some patrons wondering if they were in New Orleans, La., or Franklin, N.C. With live jazz music by Tyler Kittle Quartet Band, colorful beads, carnival masks, balloons, and feather boas, the scene for a few hours was pure Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday,” historically means fattening up on rich foods before settling into the fasting season of Lent. At Root + Barrel, Mardi Gras attendees who reserved tables for the special event, were treated to a full buffet and they could purchase decorative cupcakes – in one of which was hidden a plastic “baby,” symbolizing luck and prosperity. Participants also had opportunities to sit for a tarot card reading, bid on an item in a silent auction, and don props and take photos against a glittering backdrop.
The main event was the champagne toast crowning of a Mardi Gras king and queen from the five nominated couples: Nick and Brittney Lofthouse, Pastor Bradley and Rebekah Lisk, Scott and Amy Manshack, Matt and Aubrey Balmer, and Greg and Erin Partington. Since nominated earlier in the year, the couples have been fundraising for REACH, which focuses on “eradicating domestic violence and sexual assault crimes in both Macon and Jackson counties, through preservation, intervention, and educational services,” according to its mission statement.
The couple with the most funds raised, the Balmers, with $6,500, was named 2019 Mardi Gras king and queen. In total, the five couples raised $13,000.
According to one of the Mardi Gras organizers, Andrea Anderson, director of REACH, this third annual event is the organization’s largest fundraiser. Last year, total funds netted was $18,000. For this year’s event, Anderson said, “We expect to net $20,000 when all the donations are tallied. We feel very good about the fundraising that occurred.”