GILFORD — Pub Mania kicked off its seventh year Thursday morning with an opening ceremony at Patrick's Pub & Eatery, at which Allan Beetle, Patrick's co-owner, set a goal of raising at least $210,596 at this year's event.
Beetle said that raising that much this year will put Pub Mania over the million-dollar mark, as it has raised $797,000 for support the annual Children's Auction since it first was started.
"We started out in 2009 with 26 teams and a goal of raising $25,000 and ended up raising $47,000. Last yea,r we had 30 teams and raised $235,596," said Beetle, who pointed out that that Pub Mania was inspired by the Laconia Athletic & Swim Club's long-running "Cycle Mania" fundraiser.
He noted that even though the Athletic & Swim Club closed at least temporarily recently, its team is still taking part in this year's Pub Mania and that he and others are hopeful the club will reopen soon under the leadership of Tom and Laurie Oakley.
During Pub Mania, Patrick's reserves bar stools for teams that commit to filling the stool with a different team member each hour of the event. With 30 teams and 24 people per team, the event has 720 "Culinary Athletes" participating.
Judy Taggart, who heads up the Tagg Team, said she and her husband, Butch, have participated in all seven of the Pub Mania events and is looking forward to this year's event being the best ever.
"This is the party of the year, and everyone wants to be here,'' said Taggart.
Beetle thanked all of the team captains and offered a toast to their success, noting that 99.5 percent of the work of raising funds had already been accomplished at events the teams have held, ranging from golf tournaments and road races to cribbage tournaments and comedy shows.
"This is a celebration today," said Beetle.
Laconia Mayor Ed Engler praised the success of Pub Mania and its contribution towards the Children's Auction.
"We all know what the need is. But the sad thing is that the need keeps getting bigger," he said, urging people to take a look at the big picture. "What we need to do is make the need less by ramping up the level of overall economic activity in this area."
Mike Seymour, chairman of the board of trustees of the Greater Lakes Region Charitable Fund for Children, a nonprofit corporation which earlier this year took over ownership of the auction., noted that of the $2 million raised by the auction in the last five years, 40 percent has come from Pub Mania.
He said that Pub Mania T-shirts created and donated by Body Covers Screen Printing of Laconia will be a hot item this year and noted that, in addition to supplying the venue, Patrick's will also donate 20 percent of its gross sales for the day.
Pub Mania will end at 9 a.m. Friday. The auction is being telecast by Lakes Region Public Access Television on TV Channel 25 Metrocast. It is also being carried by Metrocast Channel 12 and broadcast live on FM stations 104.9 The Hawk and WZEI 101.5, the auction's new radio partners. It runs through Saturday Dec. 12; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Last year, the auction raised $486,575 to be distributed to local not-for-profit agencies, the second highest total ever recorded.
In 2013, the event raised $510,801 with a major contribution of $90,000 coming from the Lakes Region Home Builders and Remodelers Association through a home the organization built to raise funds for the auction.