SYKESVILLE — The annual pancake fry in Sykesville is more than just a place to grab a flap jack and sausage.
Held by the Lions Club, the 64th annual event began Friday and concludes today at the Sykesville Town Hall.
Mike Carlson, president of the Lions Club, who was working the grill Friday, said he enjoys meeting and greeting all the people who show up for the annual event.
For some of the guests Friday, the pancake fry was also a kind of reunion.
Howard Fugate III, of DuBois, attended along with his wife, Annette, and his brother, Ken, from Punxsutawney. He was also hoping to be joined by his cousins, for a total of about 15 family members.
“We’re trying to reignite a little bit of family tradition, have more people coming,” he said.
He has fond memories of the pancake fry from when he attended as a child, coming in with his family from New Jersey, where they lived.
A doctor himself, he comes from a family of doctors. His father was the late Howard Fugate Jr. and his grandfather was the late Howard Fugate Sr., who lived in the town and has a street named after him in Sykesville, Dr. Fugate Drive.
“When we came along as grandkids, my dad would bring us back in the 1960s,” he recalled. “We came over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I think it was a 24/7 pancake fry at that time for the whole time. And we would come in any time of day or night, whenever we arrived in from Jersey, and the whole family would come in.”
Fugate remembered all the things he liked about the pancake fry when he was a kid.
“We always liked the pancakes, and the sausage. I always liked the sausages.” And the fact that it’s all-you-can-eat was a plus for him.
On Friday afternoon, the cooks were busy, having already used 16 gallons of pancake and buckwheat batter.
Carlson noted the whole community shows up for the event, including hunters and people traveling through town.
He thought the nice weather in the daytime on Friday had slowed attendance “because people enjoy doing things outside.” However, he said that they picked up some customers who usually attended the pancake fry in Rockton, which wasn’t held this year.
Young people helped to carry out the old tradition.
Carlson said that nine children from the community were helping out Friday.
In addition, Boy Scouts from Sykesville were scheduled to help Saturday and Boy Scouts from DuBois on Sunday with the three-day event. High school students from Punxsutawney and DuBois were also going to lend a hand for community service.
Carlson noted the ways in which children benefit from the experience.
“The kids get a good learning experience to help out with the community,” he said.
Also, he said it instills a work habit in them.
“And it’s fun,” said one of the children, Antonio Giambanco, 9, of Sykesville, who was helping out Friday.
“We get to do stuff,” he said. In addition to serving people, he was cleaning up, wiping tables and talking to people.
Giambanco even got to wait on was his grandfather, William Hilliard of Troutville, who showed up to eat Friday afternoon.
Hilliard liked having the tables turned, with his grandson serving him.
“I got to wait on him otherwise,” he said.
Carlson said even a second grader, Rachel Peace, was helping out.
“That little girl was a ball.”
Carlson noted that the Lions Club puts the proceeds from the pancake fry back into the community with donations to different organizations. The Lions Club also has an annual Halloween Parade.
On Sunday, the busiest day of the three-day event, a Polka Party will be held from 9 a.m. to noon as part of the festivities.