Locals invited to have pancakes at Kiwanis annual event

OXFORD — Kiwanis Pancake Day returns with an in-person event April 23, giving area residents a chance to renew acquaintances and enjoy a tradition dating back to 1957.

Pancake Day was canceled two years ago due to the pandemic and held as a drive-thru event last September due to caution over the continuing uncertainty about the safety of large gatherings due to COVID-19.

It will be conducted, as usual, at Talawanda High School from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., while the popular F.R.E.S.H. Air Fair will be held outside the building. The event will once again be a celebration of community with neighbors greeting neighbors while enjoying conversation around stacks of pancakes with sausages and a favorite beverage.

Kiwanis President Jennifer Marston welcomes the return to an in-person Pancake Day because of the involvement of the community as well as the fundraising aspect which allows the club to support a host of local programs, most youth-oriented.

“Having Pancake Day in-person helps raise more money, but Pancake Day is even more about community. I love it. Everybody is out and can sit and enjoy a meal with people they have not seen in a while, this year especially, because we have not had it for so long,” she said, emphasizing the various K-Groups who come together to work on making the day a success. Those groups include students from elementary through college age in addition to the Kiwanis Club itself. “It’s my favorite thing of the year, kids and adults working together cohesively.”

Marston said the F.R.E.S.H. Air Fair is aimed at kids and she enjoys seeing kids go through the line at Pancake Day and their excitement when they learn of the Premium pancake offering, such as chocolate chip, strawberry and blueberry. The also provide a gluten-free option.

The Premium pancakes have an additional $2 charge. Tickets are being sold by Kiwanis members at a cost of $6 in advance and will also be available for $7 cash only at the door on the day of the event. Children under 5 may eat until full at no charge.

The basic meal consists of all-you-can-eat pancakes, two sausages (additional sausages for a small fee) and beverage.

Marston explained they serve pancakes until 1 p.m., which was done to serve those who may be working until noon that day and it works for participants in the F.R.E.S.H. Air Fair, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon.

Kiwanian Kelly Umbstead, who has been involved in planning and chairing the Pancake Day event for many years is excited to have it back in-person.

“We are very, very excited to be back in-person, serving pancakes and having everybody come for spring. We hope everybody will be safe. We are following all the protocols in place by Talawanda so everyone will feel safe,” she said. “We ask everyone to come out and kick off our season, which will be great.

Another long-time Kiwanis Club member with many years’ involvement in planning the event is Mike Rudolph, who also expressed excitement about the opportunity to return to an in-person Pancake Day.

“We want to thank the community for their support in the drive-thru (Pancake Day) last year. It helped us do our mission in the city of Oxford,” he said. “We did the drive-thru, now we will try to refit back to in-person. We will be ready on the 23rd, coming together to be ready for a return to in-person.”

The first Oxford Kiwanis Pancake Day event was held in 1957 for the purpose of raising funds for the purchase of new uniforms for the Talawanda High School band. The idea of serving youth in the community and the tradition continues today as the major Kiwanis fundraiser.

Dave Kullman, a local Kiwanis member who has researched the history of the club, said that the first Pancake Day had a donation of Aunt Jemima pancake mix donated by the Quaker Oats company, which had hired several African American women to play that role and sent one of them here to help.

Kullman said he joined the club in 1974 and at that time pancakes were served 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We found 90 percent came for breakfast or lunch, but not much after that, so we cut back the hours,” he said.

The location for Pancake Day has changed a few times over the years. For a time, it was held in the second-floor auditorium of the Municipal Building, now the police department. It has also been held in the Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, before moving to Talawanda High School, first the old building and now the current one.

“I am certainly glad to get back to a sit-down meal. I expect it to be popular,” Kullman said. “The main focus is young people. It’s nice the first time was for the high school band. It fits with the overall emphasis.”

Kiwanis members expressed appreciation for all those who have made Pancake Day a personal tradition and welcome those new to the experience this year. Appreciation was also extended to Talawanda High School and all the community volunteers who make it happen. Additionally, the event would not be possible without the generous financial support of a host of community sponsors who financially contribute each year to ensure that the services Kiwanis provides to the community are extended. Those sponsors each have been provided a window-cling acknowledgement for their commitment.

About the Author