by SUE SIENS
Ready, set, laugh! It’s time for one of the funniest fundraising events, the annual Wilson County Library Roast.
The event was the brain-child of former State Representative Stratton Bone and the Wilson County Library Board. The tradition of roasting, toasting, and laughing our heads off at a local prominent citizen started in 1991, and has netted more than $177,500 over the past 22 years. Proceeds from the event benefit all of the libraries in Wilson County and is used for needs not covered by the regular budget.
This year’s honoree is local businessman and owner of Moss’s Garden Center, Hale Moss.
Known for his active participation with the Wilson County Fair, Hale is the President of Wilson County Promotions, sponsor of the fair. He will be roasted by friends and colleagues on Thursday, March 28, at Castle Heights Elementary School in Lebanon. (This is one Roast you won’t want to miss!) Tickets are $35 each, or discounted tickets are available for tables of 8 or more, and can be purchased at the local libraries, from board members, or from the honoree.
Alesia Burnley, Wilson County Library System director, said “The honorees are brave and also very generous, to allow the guests to have a fun time at their expense. The honorees and the Library Board sell the tickets for the event, and we always have a great turn-out.”
Alesia estimated that 200-250 guests usually attend the event. She noted that a wonderful meal will be served by Jordan’s Catering, and added, “The board and others in the community help with decorations, printing, and financial support to make the event a success.”
George Harding was the honoree at the first Roast in 1991. The event program said, “King George – The Royal Roast”… and “The only thing brief about George is this biography.” As you might guess, that was just a preview of the hilarity the guests would experience. Local writer and artist Anne Donnell has drawn the artwork of each Roast honoree for all of the event programs.
Following Harding, other courageous Roast honorees included Glenn Gardner, former State Senator Bob Rochelle (who also serves as Master of Ceremonies at most Roast events), Donna Evins, Ed Callis, Campbell Brandon, Mildred Hearne, Frank Dudley, Leonard Tyree, Patricia Bone, Coleman Walker, Kathy Warmath, James Cason, Dixie Taylor-Huff, Andy Brummett, Johnie Payton, Larry Locke, Hattie Bryant, Woody Hunt, Lucy Lee, Chip Smith, and in 2012 – Sue Vanatta.
When asked to comment about her “roasting” at last year’s event, Vanatta said, “I was extremely honored and excited to raise money for the libraries. My advice is to choose your roasters carefully… they will fry you! It was all in fun and for a very good cause. I am looking forward to a good time at the next one.”
And so are we!