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Pancake breakfast is Saturday

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Fire departments host annual event to raise money.

By Calen McKinney

 

It's a social event that residents look forward to each year.

And with an average of 1,500 people attending each year, it's a moneymaker for Taylor County's fire departments.

It takes about 400 pounds of pancake mix and sausage, and countless volunteers to make the annual breakfast happen.

The annual Campbellsville and Taylor County Fire & Rescue pancake breakfast is set for Saturday at the fire department. The all-you-can-eat breakfast is from 5 a.m. to noon. Tickets are $4.50 each in advance and $5 at the door.

So far, Taylor County Fire & Rescue Chief George Wilson said, ticket sales have been steady.

This year's breakfast will offer pancakes, sausage, coffee and milk.

To host the breakfast, Wilson said, the fire department purchases about 380 pounds of sausage, around 375 pounds of pancake mix, as many as 15 five-gallon jugs of milk, 100 gallons of coffee, four cases of butter packets and nearly 30 gallons of pancake syrup.

This week, Wilson and other fire personnel bought the final items they need, such as plates and cups.

According to Wilson, the local fire departments have hosted the event every year since the mid 1950s. It started as a way to raise some money.

"We was raising money for the fire department any way we could," he said. "And it just kept going, and it's getting bigger all the time."

Money collected goes toward buying equipment and other items for fire and rescue employees. Last year, proceeds went to buy dress uniforms for all employees.

Wilson said it hasn't been discussed yet as to what this year's proceeds will buy.

"We just want to save a little bit," he said.

Wilson said fire fighters have often tried to count how many attend the breakfast before, but it's difficult.

"It's a bunch," he said.

The fire departments have several fundraisers during the year, such as Crusade for Children and Toys for Kids. But the fire fighters work the pancake breakfast and get to spend the money they raise.

"This is the only thing that we always use for the fire department," Wilson said.

And it's understood that all fire fighters attend, not only to pitch in but also to greet the public.

"They better have a good excuse [to not attend]," Wilson said. "It puts a lot of work on the guys."

Work to organize the breakfast has been ongoing for the past two months, Wilson said, with making sure every task is complete. And while it's lots of work, Wilson said, everyone seems to really enjoy the breakfast - and many come each year.

"Most people will get there and talk," he said. "You see people you haven't seen for a year."

Campbellsville Fire & Rescue Chief Kyle Smith will man a grill on Saturday, the second breakfast he has attended. Smith said he didn't really understand how popular the event is until attending last year's.

"It's really hard to realize that until you experience it," he said. "I really didn't know what to expect."

And while having pancake breakfasts is pretty common for fire departments, Smith said, Campbellsville's is unique.

"This is a tradition. Traditions are important to me and I really think this is a tradition in this community," he said.

"I think they're bigger and better here. And a big part of that is not the fire department, it's the community, the support the community has for our department."

Smith said personnel arrive at the station at about 3 a.m. to get grills started, which were cleaned last week. Many people attend very early, Smith said, to eat before they go hunting.

Smith said he believes residents know that money raised at the breakfast goes directly to help firefighters, and that's part of why so many people attend. And even if they buy advance tickets, many don't take advantage of the discount.

"I don't think I have ever sold a ticket and had someone say, 'I need my 50 cents back,'" he said.

Several residents have attended the breakfast for years, such as Betty and Hugh Moss and Randall Phillips and his family.

Betty Moss said she and her husband have attended since the 1980s, and plan to be there Saturday. She said the food is good, but there are other reasons they attend.

"We enjoy the meal and get to see a lot of people," she said. "And hope that our little contribution benefits someone."

Moss said there's always a large crowd of people when she and her husband arrive at the breakfast, but they can always find a seat.

Phillips said he has been going to the breakfast for nearly 30 years. He said his children and grandchildren, some from Shelbyville, come each year, too.

Phillips, former Taylor County clerk, said he began attending the breakfast to get to know people.

"I just wanted to be a part of the community," he said.

And, Phillips said, he also attended simply because the fire department hosts the event.

"They are a very important part of our community and we need to support them," he said. "I just enjoy going and meeting people."

For more information about the breakfast, contact the fire department at (270) 465-4131.