The annual Daffodil Festival is known for parades, pageantry and princesses. Beyond the title of princess and queen, the 24 girls from high schools across Pierce County are given scholarships from the Daffodil Scholarship Foundation to help each of them attend college.
The foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, a separate entity from the Daffodil Festival that provides the Daffodil Royal Court with funding for continued education each year.
“We want to be able to provide these girls with a higher education,” said Sue Hudson, foundation president. “That was one of the reasons the foundation was started.”
This year all 24 princesses were awarded $2,000 scholarships funded entirely by community donations. In addition to her princess award, Daffodil Queen Kenna Erhardt from Rogers High School was awarded a $5,000 queen’s scholarship, funded by the Puyallup Fair Foundation, soon to be renamed the Washington State Fair Foundation. The fair has funded the queen’s scholarship for nearly 25 years, which was raised from $3,000 to its current $5,000 seven years ago.
The foundation holds various fundraising events year-round to contribute to the $53,000 awarded to Daffodil Festival participants. Events range from car shows to auctions, as well as an annual luncheon where former Daffodil royalty are invited back to mingle with current royalty.
Jean Jones, former queen and daughter of the foundation’s founder, said that any donation helps. She said the majority of donors contribute around $5.
“Without the support of the community we can’t continue to give this money away,” Jones said. “There’s no donation that’s too small.”
Over the last eight years, the foundation has raised about $400,000 to give away to Daffodil Royal Courts.
The foundation hasn’t always had such a lucrative payout.
The foundation was started in 1976 by Garbie Fink, the Daffodil Festival manager, and other Daffodil Festival officials. When Fink died in 1984, his wife and Jones’ mother, Lee, received an outpouring of donations from the community. She decided to use those donations to officially establish an endowment for Daffodil scholarships.
The first scholarship was only awarded to the queen, and totaled a few hundred dollars. In the late 1990s, the endowment had available funds to expand awards to all the princesses.
Jones, who was queen in 1971, said she donates every year and knows many former “Daffodilians” who donate what they can regularly. The annual luncheon can attract individual donations from $25 to $1,000 from former members of royalty, Jones said.
Hudson, the foundation’s president, said providing the entire royalty court scholarships was an important expansion.
“All of the princesses do the same amount of work up until the time of coronation,” she said.
Erhardt, 2013 Daffodil Queen, said in an earlier interview she plans to attend Pacific Lutheran University. As a four-year institution, Erhardt can use those funds towards books and tuition at the university.
The scholarships awarded by the foundation are eligible at any four-year private or public institution, as well as two-year colleges and technical schools.
Kari Plog: 253-597-8682