It's almost time for what may be the most fun that can be had in Wilson County – the Imagination Dinner.
Local notables and elected officials have costumes chosen as each competes for the most imaginative display, with the proceeds going to the Wilson Books from Birth. The program is county's branch of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, the pre-kindergarten literacy service that provides books to children in Wilson County at no cost to the family.
Any child from birth to 5 is eligible for the program. This is the group's major fundraiser of the year to help Wilson County children learn the joys of reading.
Peggy Simpson, who heads Wilson Books from Birth, said each table seats eight and is $250. A few individual tickets are also still available.
"We still have three or four places left," Simpson said. "But if someone wants to buy a table, we'll squeeze them in somewhere."
She said she knew a bit about the costumes chosen by participants this year, but she was sworn to secrecy. Simpson said Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead usually has a cowboy-themed table in keeping with his annual Whip Crackin' Rodeo. Property Assessor Jack Pratt's office always goes all out, but just what their theme will be is a closely guarded secret.
"He won't tell me a thing," Simpson said.
This year, the event will feature live and silent auctions, as well.
"The Mom's Club of Mt. Juliet is totally handling the silent auction," she said.
Currently, there are 4,400 children receiving a new book each month in Wilson County and about 5,500 have aged out of the program. Wilson Books from Birth is staffed entirely by volunteers, so all the money raised will go toward buying books, not staff salaries.
With so many children to reach, Simpson said she's determined to keep the organization growing. The cost to supply books for children is $30 per year per child served. Of that cost, $15 comes from the Governor's Foundation and the other $15 is raised by county organizations through fundraisers, such as the Imagination Dinner.
The eighth annual Imagination Dinner is planned for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center East/West Building.
For more information about Wilson Books from Birth or for any available seats at the event, call Simpson at 615-444-5586.