Library hot dog roast draws the crowds
“I started it in 2007. It grew from an idea I had of using the $5,000 stipend I received as minority leader in the legislature,” explained Mills. “I thought I would use it to start a hot dog roast and generate more revenue. In the food business, I have a good relationship with Joe Sahlen from Sahlen’s Hot Dogs and he said he would work with me to make it happen. He supplies the hot dogs, I purchase all the particulars and we involve the local officials to cook and collect money. By now, I’ve got them all trained so well, all I have to do is show up and look pretty.”
Although Mills’ legislative coverage area changed this year as a result of county redistricting, he continued running the event at one library that was removed from his district, in addition to adding three new locations. He noted that, at first, the event was met with some trepidation.
“The first year, it was a little suspect, because people wondered if I was doing it for political reasons, but that all got cleared up after they realized that no, this is just something to support local libraries. People really embraced it after that, once they realized it’s a really great thing for the libraries,” he explained.
“Springville has been No. 1 in being really ‘rah-rah’ about this event. They really stepped up, right from the beginning, and took it one step higher, both in the amount of money raised and the other events going on at the same time,” Mills noted.
“The spirit is always great at the Concord library,” he continued. “It brings a lot of people around and we run until we’re out. People can go for a hot dog and a bottle of water or an Italian sausage made by a bunch of Germans. It’s great.”
This year, Mills said the fundraiser is on track to raise more money than ever.
“In past years, we have raised about $20,000. This year, we have eight libraries participating, so we could take it up to $30,000. Each library stands on its own and the funds each location raises go directly to that library,” he said. “It’s a great way to give back to your individual community.”
The libraries use monies raised to purchase books, operating materials, shelving, multimedia or whatever else the location needs. What that may be is left up to the individual branch.
Although Mills could have directed his efforts anywhere in Western New York, he said he chose libraries based on his and his wife’s love of reading and the community focus of the local library.
“Frankly, they are near and dear to my heart. My wife is an avid reader and I think the local library is a great institution,” Mills said.
“It’s not just somewhere to go to read and check out books, but a real positive force for the whole community.”