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KENLY — Following a successful run of 62 consecutive years, the Kenly Kiwanis Club has announced it will not hold its annual pancake supper fundraiser this year.
“We decided to discontinue the supper this year for several reasons,” said current club President Al Faber. “Through the years, attendance at the event had dropped, plus we have fewer club members now. We used to have 25-30 members selling tickets versus 12 now, and that makes a big difference.”
“When I learned we were not having it this year, I shed a tear,” said Kiwanian and longtime member Jimmy Bailey, 77. “I guess things change, times change and people start doing other things.”
The event was originally known as the pancake jamboree when it began in 1957, Bailey explained.
In the early years, the supper was held each October in the Kenly High School/Kenly Elementary School cafeteria.
A fire at the school in 1994 moved the fundraiser to the North Johnston High School cafeteria, where it was then held every year through 2018.
“The pancake supper was a major fundraiser and was one of the biggest social functions in Kenly along with the Christmas parade,” said Kiwanian Dr. Scott Turik. “It was a way to see people and a way of giving back to the community.”
When word about the pancake supper began circulating last week, it prompted lots of reminiscing and recalling of earlier pancake suppers by both Kiwanis members and others.
“It was about the biggest thing going in Kenly,” said Bailey. “We always had a good time with the supper and everybody seemed to enjoy it.”
Bailey said in the early years, he worked mostly in the dining hall.
“All club members and their wives and children worked,” said Bailey. “It was a family thing. I remember the cafeteria would be packed with people and they would line up out in the yard to get their pancakes.”
“It always used to be interesting,” said Faber. “Since it was held in the fall, politicians would usually come out and support us by helping serve the pancakes but also to be seen.”
“Ernie Williamson was in charge of the supper in the beginning,” said Bailey. “He organized all the committees and everybody in the club was on a committee. Roy Talton usually mixed up the batter and got it all over everything. We made coffee in great big pots and it was really strong. Betty Lee Woodard finally took over the coffee-making duties.”
Kiwanians used pancake supper proceeds for community projects such as buying children’s books for the Kenly Public Library, covering kids’ Tobacco Farm Life Museum day camp costs, providing scholarships for community college students and supporting the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4-H clubs.
Club members also delivered pancakes to the senior center in Kenly and Free Will Baptist Children’s Home near Middlesex.
“A lot of people put a lot of work into it and it was always one of our major fundraisers along with the Cans for Kids program,” said Turik.
Faber said the club hasn’t decided if or when it might resume the annual tradition, but members are considering several ideas.