LACONIA — Jennifer Bailey grew up in the Lakes Region and has a long memory of the good cheer that the Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction brings to the holiday season. When her children were young several decades ago, the family donated toys. Jennifer also purchased holiday gifts while listening to the radio broadcasts.
Shawn Bailey came to the region as an adult and began to take part as an auction volunteer 14 years ago. He took bids on the phone banks, with his coworkers from Coldwell Banker, and also helped organize annual toy drives in the office.
“It was addictive to see the magic that goes on there, and how many people help,” Shawn recalled. “I was impressed with the community and how generous people are.”
Jennifer said she tends toward the shy side; getting involved with the auction in person didn’t feel like her thing ... until her longtime friends, Jennifer and Allan Beetle, co-owners of Patrick’s Pub & Eatery, started dreaming up Pub Mania 11 years ago.
“Allan proposed the idea, and Shawn and I loved it so much, we said, ‘We’re in. Tell us what we can do,’” Jennifer Bailey said. “That first year, it was meeting and talking — throwing ideas around. They did the majority of it. We just kept saying, ‘What can we do? What can we do?’”
Since that first year, Pub Mania has grown tremendously, becoming an event that provides the lion’s share of the funds raised during each year’s auction week. The event is a 24-hour barstool challenge involving 31 teams of 24 people each. For each of the 24 hours, teams participate in fun games and activities. Fundraising also happens year-round, as do various events that range from yard sales and dinner gatherings to the Pub Mania Shuffle, a two-mile walk taking place on Wednesday nights in the spring and fall.
“I was thrilled when Allan came up with the idea for Pub Mania,” Jennifer Bailey said. “It’s made it easy for me to get involved.”
Jennifer Bailey has been a Pub Mania referee since the event’s start. Shawn first served as team captain with his Coldwell Banker colleagues and came on board as a referee three years ago.
The refs stay up for 24 hours, working with the crowd, answering questions, leading games and raffles, and handing out prizes. Shawn also judges the dance contest and helps the event’s many musicians set up and break down.
Allan and Jennifer, Jeff and Wendy Beetle — also Patrick’s co-owners — and Kate Flaherty are the other event referees.
Pub Mania raised $47,000 for the Children’s Auction in its first year, crushing Allan’s goal of $30,000. Last year, the amount raised was $353,361 — more than half of the total $580,584 that was raised during the Children’s Auction.
“I feel really good about it and really proud,” said Shawn. “The amount of money — it’s needed in this community. To be able to be a part of raising so much money is very rewarding.”
He added that there is pressure to keep pace. “We just have to keep doing it somehow.”
Jennifer Bailey said, “I love the emotional part of it. Closing ceremonies gives me such a good feeling. I cannot believe the amount of money raised. We live in a beautiful area, but we have a lot of need. It’s amazing how much the Children’s Auction does and how the community comes together.”
In 10 years, Pub Mania has raised nearly $2 million for the Children’s Auction. The 2019 edition of the world’s greatest barstool challenge is just around the corner, kicking off on Thursday, Dec. 5, for 24 hours.
Look for the Beetles and Baileys there. Shawn and Allan are sure to perform “Pub Maniacs Answer the Call,” a traditional song the Beetles wrote to tell the event’s backstory.
Said Jennifer Bailey, “I can’t imagine the holiday season without Pub Mania and the Auction.
“When we get to opening ceremonies, there’s always this feeling of, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe we’re here again,’” she added. “You get to see familiar faces from years past, and, when closing ceremonies come, a recipient speaks about what the money has meant to them. It puts all our efforts into perspective.”
The Children’s Auction runs Tuesday, Dec. 3 - Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Belknap Mall. Bring an item to donate, or come watch the fun and bid!
Visit www.ChildrensAuction.com to learn more.
If you know a Children’s Auction Champion, send suggestions to Jennifer Kelley at Jenn@ChildrensAuction.com.