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SWEET ON PEPPA

7 vie to 'Kiss the Pig' for COA

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Robert Wynegar (center), president of College of The Albemarle, shows "Kiss the Pig" winner Sally Francis Kehayes (left) how to kiss Peppa the Pig during the Pork & Pearls Pig Pickin' and Oyster Roast, the College of The Albemarle Foundation's 7th annual fundraiser, Saturday. The event was held at The Crawfish Shack in Hertford.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Sunday, October 8, 2017

HERTFORD — Usually any contest that features smooching a pig as its top prize isn’t likely to get many takers.

Nonetheless, there were no fewer than seven people vying for the “honor” of kissing Peppa the Pig during the College of The Albemarle Foundation’s Pork and Pearls Pig Pickin’ and Oyster Roast fundraiser in Perquimans County on Saturday.

The “winner” of the fundraiser’s “Kiss the Pig” contest would be the contestant who raised the most money for the foundation.

In the end, Sally Francis Kehayes, a former member of COA’s Board of Trustees, was declared the winner. She bested fellow competitors Robert Wynegar, Barry Overman, Josh Bass, Gary Hobbs, Arty Tillett and Dwayne Stallings. 

Prior to crowding in for a peck with Peppa herself, Kehayes watched with the crowd at the Crawfish Shack as Wynegar got down on his knees and laid one on the rescue animal’s forehead.

Saturday’s pig pickin' was the seventh annual fundraiser for the COA Foundation, foundation Executive Director Lisa Johnson said. Usually the foundation holds a black-tie gala, but she said the foundation decided to mix things up this year.

Though forgoing some pomp and circumstance this year, Johnson explained the fundraiser's purpose remains as important as ever: supporting COA's students, faculty and staff, and overall mission. The goal was to raise $80,000, she said.

Among those enjoying this year's event was Overman, a deputy chief for the Elizabeth City Fire Department and one of the “Kiss a Pig” contestants. He likes both formal and informal occasions, he said, and would've been happy to win the contest in support of COA.

“I've never been excited about kissing a pig before, but I guess that has to change,” he said, joking, “I'm ready to pucker up.”

Bass, president of the Currituck County Chamber of Commerce, was more reserved about joining the contest. He recalled asking, “Can anyone else from Currituck do it?” but said he was happy to lend his support to COA, a “fantastic partner” to Currituck and the region.

Hobbs, a Realtor with Long and Foster Realtors, joked his friend and COA marketing director Patrick Detwiler didn't give him a choice about participating.

“I said, 'Patrick, you're crazy,'” Hobbs recalled.

He was happy to participate though, explaining he was a “product of COA” and took transfer credits there before getting degrees in business and marketing from East Carolina University and N.C. State University respectively.

Also competing was Wynegar, who started his tenure as COA president this spring. He said he was happy to join the contest because college foundations are increasingly vital. They support students and have filled the gaps as government funding has shrunk, he said.

Johnson and COA Foundation President Taylor Sugg said proceeds from Saturday’s fundraiser would go “first and foremost” to students. Sugg noted the foundation handed out $250,000 worth of scholarships to 200 students last academic year. Other high priorities for the foundation include supporting employees' professional development and, when needed, helping with facility improvements.

One facility project the foundation is supporting is renovating the Elizabeth City campus' Performing Art Center. Johnson said the foundation has $155,000 in private funds to help with new furnishings, décor and other finishing touches to the mostly state-funded project.

Catering Saturday's event was Currituck BBQ.

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