Their names may be different, but their mission to serve the South Haven community remains the same.
The Kiwanis Club of South Haven and the Rotary Club of South Haven will combine efforts to host a blueberry pancake breakfast as part of the National Blueberry Festival on Aug. 14-15.
Normally, each club hosts its own pancake breakfast during the festival; the Rotary Club serves up flapjacks at the festival’s Fly-in at the South Haven Regional Airport, while the Kiwanis Club caters to festival-goers downtown at the Huron Street Pavilion.
But the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic this year has brought both clubs together to offer one large-scale breakfast at one location: the Huron Street Pavilion.
The two clubs decided to combine efforts after this year’s Fly-in was canceled due to COVID-19 health restrictions that weren’t lifted until July 1 – a date that was too late for airport officials to organize their annual large-scale event.
For the Rotary Club, news of the cancellation was devastating.
“This is by far the biggest fundraising event for our club over the years during the Blueberry Festival,” Rotary Club President Daniel Thompson said.
Club members then got an idea.
“Upon getting the word that the airport Fly-in was canceled, I reached out to Kiwanis Club leadership to see if there was any interest in the Rotary Club participating in the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast during the Blueberry Festival,” Thompson explained.
The two clubs that have been in existence for a long time – Kiwanis for 100 years, and Rotary for 65 years – had never worked together on a fundraising event. But like so many things that have changed as a result of the pandemic, they decided to give it a try.
“Kiwanis Club leadership was very supportive of the idea,” Thompson said.
People who attend this year’s Blueberry Pancake Breakfast at the pavilion can expect to see both clubs donned in their respective attire while jokingly ribbing one another, but staying focused on preparing a menu of all-you-can-eat blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, coffee and juice.
“We typically serve around 2,200 people over the two-day weekend operating from 8 a.m. to noon,” said Kiwanis member Ron Seiler, who has been in charge of the Kiwanis pancake breakfast for more than a decade. “This year we are extending hours from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., adding additional equipment, adding tables and adding the combined workforce of the Kiwanis Club and the Rotary Club together to increase service speed and capacity. So, we hope to serve closer to 3,000 people this year with no longer of a wait than normal.”
Once the breakfasts have been consumed and all equipment cleaned/packed away Sunday, both clubs plan to split the profit evenly.
The proceeds will be used by the two clubs to fund scholarships for graduating high school seniors and donations to youth and other community organizations.