LUMBERTON — The Kiwanis of Robeson-Lumberton provided thousands of tasty reasons to drop by the Bill Sapp Recreation Center on Saturday, and aid with the club’s mission to raise money to benefit young people.
Double that if you count Friday, when the annual two-day pancake festival, which was delayed from November because Hurricane Matthew had packed Bill Sapp Center with flooded-out residents, started sizzling.
“We hear a lot of people say they love to come and see people they only see once a year,” said Bruce Jobe, a member of the club. “It’s more than pancakes, it’s a social event.”
Buckets of pancake batter, dozens of cases of sausages, gallons of syrup and a sea of coffee, milk and soft drinks to wash it all down with brought hundreds of hungry people eager to get their fill.
Working the griddles was longtime Kiwanian Jimmy Harrington, who had lost count of how many buckets of pancake batter he had used, but said one would produce about 80 to 90 pancakes. Harrington, who has been a Kiwanian since 1988, gave a little history lesson on the festival.
Harrington said the first pancake festival the club hosted was in 1962, at Harold Johnson’s Restaurant at the old Clover Leaf Hotel.
“They did it at that restaurant the first year and they sold tickets for 50 cents. The next year it moved to the Bill Sapp Center but they didn’t have a lot of cooking equipment,” Harrington said. “They cooked the sausage inside the kitchen and there was a haze of the sausage smoke that went into the other room.”
Harrington said people walked around bent over at the waist to keep their heads out of the smoke. The next year the sausage was cooked outside.
Harrington’s secret to the perfectly flipped pancake? Pour the batter, wait for the bubbles to surface, then pop — then it’s time to flip.
“You want to see a glaze on the top a little bit,” Harrington said.
The industrial sized mix-master the club uses to mix the batter was purchased at a military surplus store.
“That’s off of a Navy ship,” Harrington said.
Patrick Pait, the chairman of the pancake festival for the first time, said he was mostly relying on veteran club members to do what they knew to do.
“A lot of people help. We started this morning at about 5:30 and there were five or six of us out here cooking sausage about two and a half hours before folks came.”
He was optimistic that as many as a 1,000 people would enjoy pancakes over the two days. An all-you-could eat plate was $7, and you could dine it or carry out.
“Because of the date change we expected it to be a little down but we’re still expecting to do well,” Pait said. “I think we’re going to be able to raise a good bit of money for the children of Robeson County.”
Pait said the money would be counted on Monday, and proceeds go to benefit the Kiwanis of Robeson-Lumberton Children’s Foundation, which supports agencies providing help, support, guidance and protection to the children and youth of the county.
Among the beneficiaries are Camp Care, which provides counseling to children who have lost a loved, Read Around Robeson, which provided books to second-graders, and for scholarships at UNC Pembroke and Robeson Community College. The club also makes a gift each year to the Empty Stocking Fund, which provides Christmas presents for needy children.
Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-416-5865.