ASHEBORO — When some 3,500 diners ate pancakes on March 21, it marked the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic that the Kiwanis Club fund-raiser offered sit-down eating.
Held at the NC National Guard Armory on South Fayetteville Street, Pancake Day marked its 74th year. It began in 1949 when Randolph Mills supplied Dainty Biscuit Flour for the big event.
During the COVID years, pancake dinners were offered for takeout only.
“It’s good to have people in that atmosphere,” said Mark Vuncannon, chair of the event. “It brings energy back when people can socialize at a big event. That was really good.”
David Smith, who said he’s been involved in Pancake Day since 1976, allowed as how the total number of diners was likely to be more like 4,000, adding in the large number of volunteers. “We can’t do this without community volunteers,” he said.
Smith said Pancake Day 2023 used some 900 pounds of flour, 30 gallons of oil and about 200 pounds of liquid eggs.
“We cooked a lot of sausage,” he added of the 1.5 ounce patties provided by Thomas Brothers Country Ham. “We used just about everything we bought.”
The event, Smith said, wouldn’t be practical without community partners. Central Gas & Appliance, for instance, set up its own equipment and donated the gas to heat the grills. He said the gas company has been helping Pancake Day since the first year. Pet Dairy delivered the milk and Thomas Brothers loaned their coolers to keep drinks cold.
“If we had to pay for it all, we wouldn’t make a cent,” Smith said. Tickets for all-you-can-eat plates were just $7.
“This is truly a community event,” he said. “People have been coming a lot of years and see old friends.”