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Joshua Thomas
Signs led the way to a bountiful spread of baskets at Flapjacks and Fairy Tales Sunday.

Joshua Thomas
For the duration of Flapjacks and Fairy Tales' five hours, the H.C. Smith Benefit Club's dining room was packed.

Joshua Thomas
Melissa Miles (right) greets Flapjacks and Fairy Tales attendees as they make their way along the breakfast buffet on Sunday.

Joshua Thomas
Baskets, full of donated items, lined every available wall and surface of the H.C. Smith Benefit Club on Sunday.

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MRML supporters come out in droves for baskets and breakfast

Monday, April 15, 2013 - Updated: 8:49 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

ST. JOHNSVILLE -- The expansive dining room at the H.C. Smith Benefit Club was packed from wall to wall with Margaret Reaney Memorial Library supporters on Sunday morning. Amongst the crowd, on tables lining each wall, across every surface, spreading into the bar area, were elaborate baskets full of donated items, which attendees gleefully bid on all morning, both before and after feasting on the event's buffet-style breakfast.

Flapjacks and Fairy Tales is the MRML's largest annual fundraiser, and it's grown every year since the inceptional event eight years ago. And, while having a great time while funding the library is a major piece of the puzzle, MRML President Rebecca Sokol noted Sunday morning that the event is also about making connections.

Sokol explained that MRML employees and trustees annually volunteer at the event in the hopes that members of the community will get to know them. Sokol said she wants people to feel comfortable coming to their community's library, and the fact that the board of trustees is not an invisible board working silently in undisclosed quarters -- instead devoting their time to being visible and welcoming -- familiarizes people with the MRML's unique, inviting atmosphere before they even set foot inside the historic Kingsbury Avenue building.

"I hope that the people that come here -- to our breakfast -- will come to the library," said Sokol, continuing, I want everybody in the community to feel comfortable coming to our library. Just coming to see it, going through it, getting to know it."

"I want the whole community to know the library is more than just a place where we keep books," Sokol explained.

As of noon -- the building still absolutely packed, though the crowd had thinned out considerably from even an hour before when a line stretched out the front door -- attendance was estimated at "well over 600," said Sokol.

The kitchen crew of about 10-12 -- two of which travel from Dutchess County to help -- has remained primarily the same each year, with Bob Fisher heading up a devoted group that has become a well oiled machine since they were first brought together by volunteers including Fisher's wife, Judy, Phoebe Sitterly and Cathy Miles.

Noting that his wife, who unfortunately passed away four years ago, is the reason Bob first became involved with Flapjacks and Fairytales, his annual participation, which began as a means to assist a worthwhile organization, has become a tribute to Judy's legacy and memory.

The amount of food prepared at the event has increased annually, said Fisher, who worked at the H.C. Smith Benefit Club since Thursday, preparing the location. On Saturday, Fisher cooked six gallons of sausage gravy, then arrived at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning to lead the kitchen crew through a day wherein they'd cook 100 pounds of potatoes, 95 pounds of sausage links, six cases of eggs, nearly 100 pounds of pancake mix, a case of applesauce and, in addition to the sausage gravy, about five gallons of liver gravy.

Fisher said that he looks forward to the event every year, noting, "I'll do it until I can't do it." He explained that even before the day was done, there were already ideas being tossed around about how to make the event bigger and better next year, with suggestions including the possible erection of a tent outside for additional space.

"Thanks to all the people who come and support us," said an appreciative Fisher, still about four hours from wrapping up his 10-11 hour day. Sokol echoed those sentiments, stating, visibly moved, "The thing that's so important to me is that the community supports us -- not only in the baskets, but coming here for breakfast. It's overwhelming for all of us." She concluded, stating both of the supporters and the kitchen staff, "We couldn't do this without them."

Joshua Thomas - In the kitchen, from left, Ron Miles, Cathy Miles and Honey White prepare breakfast.

Joshua Thomas - At the window between the H.C. Smith Benefit Club dining room and kitchen, volunteer Melissa Miles requests more of a breakfast food item.

Joshua Thomas - Becky Hagadorn, with Jordan and Jocelyn Simzer, prepares a breakfast plate.

Joshua Thomas - With their mom, Brittney Knapp and Connor Clark bid on baskets.

Joshua Thomas - Robin Clark bids on a basket.

Joshua Thomas - Robin Clark (left) with family members, from left, Tyler Mussmacher, Becky Hagadorn, Jocelyn Simzer and Sadie Snell.

     

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