Pancake Day, FRESH Air Fair partner again in Oxford

Spring is sprung, the flowers is riz, I wonder where the pancakes is.

The answer is Talawanda High School on Saturday, April 29, for the 61st annual Kiwanis Pancake Day, again this year paired with the McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital’s FRESH Air Fair.

Pancakes will be served inside the school from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Pancake Day has been a part of the season for 60 years and people look forward to it every year.

“Someone said the other day, ‘I saw the Pancake Day signs go up and that’s how I always know it is spring,’ ” said Kelly Umbstead, who is coordinating the event this year.

The FRESH Air Fair will be held outdoors, weather permitting, from 9 a.m. to noon. It will be moved indoors if it rains.

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WHAT: 61st annual Kiwanis Pancake Day

WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 29

WHERE: Talawanda High School, 5301 University Park Blvd.

COST: Tickets are $5 if purchased in advance from Kiwanis members or at the Coldwell Banker College Real Estate office and $6 at the door on the day of the event.

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Umbstead is a relatively new member of the Oxford Kiwanis Club, but she finds herself coordinating Pancake Day activities and has dubbed herself “Kiwanis Pancake Princess.” Since the event has now entered its seventh decade, she said it operates smoothly and her job is to deal with organizing.

“It really runs well. This is the 61st year. I just have to keep everyone coordinated and moving in the right direction. We have many volunteers. It has been very exciting,” Umbstead said. “The thing I enjoy most is visiting all our local businesses. They say, ‘Oh, Pancake Day. What did I do last year?’ It’s been great.”

It’s a similar situation for Sharon Klein, at McCullough-Hyde, although the FRESH Air Fair does not have 60 years of history. It has developed a strong following as a family and community activity which involves kids and the community’s social service agencies.

The word FRESH comes from the full name Family Resources and Education for Safety and Health and is a partnership with the Coalition for a Healthy Community, the Talawanda School District and both the Oxford and Miami University police departments.

Klein said this will be the eighth year the hospital has sponsored the FRESH Air Fair and the fourth year it has been held in a partnership with the Kiwanis Club in conjunction with Pancake Day.

Non-profit agencies from around the school district have been invited to participate by setting up tables and greeting the public to talk about the services they offer. Many will provide activities for children.

The police departments will again offer their bike rodeo, offering advice on how to ride bikes safely and all participants will be entered into a drawing for a free bike.

The hospital will also provide bike helmets for children looking ahead to a safe summer of bicycling.

Pancake Day tickets are $5 purchased in advance from Kiwanis members or at the Coldwell Banker College Real Estate office and $6 at the door on the day.

“There are free seconds and thirds and people can buy extra sausage tickets,” Umbstead said. “We had premium pancakes last year for the first time and for $2 more, you can get different things like chocolate chip, strawberry or blueberry pancakes.”

Added to that premium menu this year are gluten-free pancakes, which they have offered in the past but are expensive and difficult to prepare in order to keep them truly separate from other pancakes for those with really sensitive gluten allergies.

The premium griddles will be set up separately from the rest of the operation.

She said they have held a silent auction in past years, but decided this year to have a raffle table and encourages visitors to check that out for a variety of nice donated prizes.

Umbstead called Pancake Day the club’s primary fundraising activity of the year and money raised goes to support children’s groups. She said they expect to serve 1,600 to 1,700 people and to raise between $23,000 and $25,000 from Pancake Day, all of which goes back into the community in a variety of ways.

Those activities include the Kiwanis Club’s group of auxiliary clubs for youth from elementary school through college, Boy Scout and Girl Scouts, Respect for Law Camp, Oxford Free Clinic, the choice pantry, scholarships and citizenship awards, the Citizen of the Year awards, police department’s Halloween candy program, Reach Out & Read and other efforts.

While many volunteers that day will come from the Kiwanis Club and affiliated organizations, anyone is welcome to sign up to help and Umbstead said they often get help from the other local service clubs, like the Lions and Rotary.

She invited anyone willing to help out with a two-hour volunteer shift to go to their web site——and volunteer. She also invites people to visit their Facebook page.

The FRESH Air Fair will have a silent auction this year as an added effort in support of the Thriving Communities grant from Interact for Health.

Klein said prizes have been donated for that project to use the money raised toward the coalition’s commitment to raise $7,500 for matching funds from the five-year grant.

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WHEN: 9 a.m. to noon April 29

WHERE: Talawanda High School, 5301 University Park Blvd.

COST: Free

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Rox the Oxford Fox, the mascot encouraging healthy choices, will also be on hand for the fair, which will also offer child identification kits, healthy snacks, fire safety education, give-a-ways, face painting, tours of a fire engine as well as tours of a helicopter from 10 a.m. to noon.

The Coalition for a Healthy Community will again hold a medication disposal day for residents to bring expired, unused prescription and over-the-counter medications to be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way.

Those medications must be in their original bottle and law enforcement representatives will collect them and dispose of them properly.

“The FRESH Air Fair has grown every year, both in participation by local agencies and in the number of people who come,” Klein said, adding she thinks the partnership with the Kiwanis Club is a good one combining two worthy local activities.

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