In just a few short days, Sun Prairie Rotary members will take over Prairie View Middle School and prepare to dish up heaping piles of pancakes to local residents at the 53rd Annual Rotary Pancake Feast.
Ron Riechers from Handy Appliance, former confectionist Diana Konkle, Sun Prairie Area School District Administrator Tim Culver and Municipal Court Judge Tom Hebl, are among the Rotary members who will be up bright and early ensuring the tables are set and the pancakes and sausages hot and ready when the doors open to admit the first diners at 7:30 a.m.
For just $6 for adults and $5 for children 16 and under, diners can fill their plates with all the pancakes they can eat, as well as sausage, butter, syrup, applesauce and coffee or milk. Children 5 and younger eat free.
In addition to the months of planning that is needed to ensure the event goes off without a hitch every year, Rotarians prepare and diners consume a large amount of food every year.
The golden brown beauties are whipped up on Louie’s Blazer, a specially-designed, gas-powered pancake griddle designed by Sun Prairie Rotary Club member Louie Blaser just for the pancake feast. At any given time, Louie’s Blazer can cook up to 20 pancakes at once.
According to Rotary President-Elect Laura Jennings, Rotary members are expected to whip up close to 2,000 pancakes, cook 100 lbs. of sausage and use 180 eggs and 12 lbs. of margarine. In addition, the 700-800 people anticipated to attend the annual breakfast will drink close to 7.5 gallons of orange juice and use approximately nine gallons of syrup.
As diners come and go, Rotary members serve in a number of ways at the breakfast, from greeting people at the doors to wiping down and setting tables and cooking and serving the pancakes and sausages. While the event may be large and require a lot of effort from Rotary personnel, funds raised from the annual breakfast are used to support both local and international efforts.
In 2011, Sun Prairie Rotary pledged to fund Kindness Retreats at each of the seven Sun Prairie elementary schools for three years, with the second year of retreats finishing up at Eastside Elementary School on Friday, Feb. 22.
In addition, Sun Prairie Rotary also provides $4,000 in scholarships to Sun Prairie High School seniors every year, and Rotary members volunteer with Sunshine Supper and Sunshine Place, according to Jennings.
International efforts include supporting a solar cooker project in developing countries. According to Rotarian Bill Wambach, Sun Prairie Rotary has teamed up with the Rotary Club in Fresno, Calif. to fund solar cooker projects for the past 17 years.
“In some countries like Africa and some of the South American and Central American countries, the women don’t have…like you and I take for granted the stove,” Jennings said.
“They don’t have that and they tend to cook over fires. The problem is for some of them, they do that inside of a sheltered area because it is hot and there is too much sun.
“So what happens is that smoke collects in there and there is a higher incidence of cancer, lung diseases,” Jennings said. “They also have to go find the wood every day.”
A solar cooker, however, captures natural sunlight and uses the sun’s energy to boil food, reducing reliance on wood fires.
During the 17 years Sun Prairie Rotary has helped fund the project, solar cookers have been distributed in 13 countries: Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, Malawi, Ghana, Turkey, Nicaragua, Mexico, El Salvador, Bolivia and Tanzania.
The 53rd Annual Rotary Pancake Feast will be held on Sunday, March 3 from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Prairie View Middle School, located at 400 N. Thompson Road.
Tickets for the feast cost $5 in advance or $6 for adults at the door.