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Kiwanis Pancake House has long history
Statesboro Kiwanis member Ronnie Alderman, right, mans the pancake griddle Wednesday for the fourteenth consecutive year at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair.
    As soon as people enter the fairgrounds, the tantalizing scents come wafting over the air. Some may follow their noses to the cotton candy and funnel cakes, but judging from the long lines each night, many are drawn to the mouthwatering aroma of pancakes and sausage.
    Some people even come to the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair for  the sole reason of eating a pancake supper.
    It was 1964, not long after the Statesboro Kiwanis Club began holding an annual fair, that the club decided to sell pancakes and fresh sausage as an additional fund raiser. Charter member Marion Brantley was one of the major founders of the pancake endeavor, said his nephew and current Statesboro Kiwanis Club member Bob Lanier.
    "One of the first projects to be undertaken within the fair structure was the development and building of the Pancake House," he said.
    Throughout the years numerous club members have dedicated time and effort to keeping the flow of pancakes and sausage going, but "Brantley took on the responsibility of building, organizing, securing equipment, planning meals, purchasing the food products, requesting donations of various types and opening the pancake house at every fair.  He was the driving force" behind the origins of the Pancake House, he said.
    Brantley used his annual two-week vacation each year to prepare the kitchen and other areas of the pancake house "so that when the gates opened for the fair, the pancake house was ready to serve," he said. Brantley even "served breakfast and lunch to anyone who was hungry" during fair week until his death in 1992, he said.
    While Brantley may have been the main founder of the Pancake House, hundreds of Kiwanis members have worked many hours and put forth effort to make sure the pancakes keep flipping and the sausages keep sizzling. Don Whaley has co-managed the pancake house since 2002, along with club members Ronnie Alderman and Ricky Helton.
    "They are a tremendous amount of help — along with everybody else," Whaley said Wednesday as he maneuvered around the fairgrounds, preparing for the onslaught of hungry customers. In spite of a temporary glitch Monday when electricity was out for a couple hours, the Pancake House still had long lines Monday and Tuesday as people waited for a stack of fluffy cakes and two links of fresh pork sausage.
    It takes 15 volunteers per shift to work the Pancake House, and there are two shifts nightly — three on Saturday, Whaley said. "It's quite an undertaking, pretty labor intensive."
    With 50 boxes of pancake mix weighing 12 pounds each and over a ton of sausages sold each night, it's obvious the pancakes are popular. A choice of homemade cane syrup or maple syrup is found on each table, and volunteers from the Brooklet Kiwanis Club, Statesboro and Southeast Bulloch Key Clubs keep the  tables bussed and syrup bottles filled.
    "If we continue at the pace we started, we'll make enough pancakes to stretch three and a half miles in a week," Whaley said.
    No one appeared to be unhappy with their meal Tuesday night.
    Jill Vickery said pancakes were part of what the fair is about. "It's just what you do when you come to the fair," she said.
    Billie Vickery, who was a runner-up for Miss Ogeechee Fair in 1963, said she has been coming to the fair and eating pancakes all her life. "It's our family  tradition."
    The fair always falls on her husband Johnny's birthday, and Tuesday night the family celebrated his 66th birthday at the Pancake House. "We always come to the fair to celebrate his birthday," she said.
    Wanda Roberts, 31, is also a lifetime pancake fan. For the past 25 years she has eaten at least one supper at the Pancake House during fair week. When asked her reasons why, she smiled and admitted what lured her each year.
    "The smell," she said, closing her eyes and sampling the sweet aroma in the air. "The smell and  the taste — I look forward to it."
    Brianna Castellano, 16, and her friend Byron Linto, 17, may not have been partaking of Kiwanis Fair pancakes for as long, but they appeared to be enjoying the meal just as much as anyone.
    "It's good,"  Castellano said "I've probably come here since I was 12."
    Linto said he eats at the Pancake House "as much as possible" and comes to the fair each night. "I love it," he said. "I've been eating here ever since I was a little kid."
    This year, a new sign was erected on the building, a replacement for one previously dedicating the Pancake House to Brantley, Lanier said.
    The original dedication was done May 19, 1988, and Brantley was presented with a plaque memorializing the honor.  The original sign was hung in the outer eves of the roof of the pancake house "and a caricature was painted on the sign to denote the fondness and respect of the membership for this man," Lanier said.

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