Community gathers for pancakes and fellowship

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Events that bring the community together are always special, but not many of them center around pancakes.

That is what made the Inaugural Ponte Vedra Pancake Festival and Community Table so unique and special for those who attended the event hosted by Christ Episcopal Church.

All the attendees live within the Ponte Vedra community, which was the idea behind the event, to bring neighbors together and spark conversation with the hopes of building a tighter and stronger community.

Several tables were set up around the church’s courtyard with different local organizations represented and cooking pancakes, often with their own creative twist to the recipe, to win the best pancake contest.

“This event has been about a month or two in the making, and there have been a lot of people involved to make it happen,” said Joe Bove with Beaches Rotaract. “Good people, a good band and good pancakes.”

Residents from Phillips Avenue, the first of the streets behind the church, had a booth featuring traditional pancakes, but offered an array of toppings to choose from, which they called “grandma’s recipe.”

“We went with a simple and classic recipe, but you know that anytime grandma is in charge, you may get to load up on all kinds of stuff that you normally wouldn’t have at your parent’s house,” Phillips Avenue resident Emily Schneider said. “We really decided to go all in for the kids vote.”

The strategy worked, as the group was named the people’s choice winner.

“The opportunity to bring everyone together cannot be passed up,” Schneider said.

Coming up just short of the top position but garnering a lot of votes was the Ponte Vedra Beach Rotary Club, whose cappuccino chocolate chip pancakes were a hit, as well as Christ Episcopal Church’s men’s bible study group and their Nutella-stuffed pancakes.

Christ Episcopal Church took a completely different approach by making waffles instead of pancakes and had several fruit toppings to go on top.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office won the portion of the contest that was voted on by the judges, who chose their pancakes, because despite going with a simple approach, the batter had a certain flavor that stood out, which made their pancakes delicious even without toppings.

“Our guys came up with the classic pancake, but we added vanilla and cinnamon into the batter,” Lt. Josh Underwood said. “We had a blast.”

A line of tables butted up against each other to create a 100-foot-long table that sat in the middle of the courtyard, where residents of all ages could sit down and mingle.

“It’s even better than I had hoped,” said Jack Parker, one of the people who helped turn the idea into a reality. “All these people have brought so much energy. People have just been having fun, and that was the main idea behind it.”

Pancakes and waffles were not the only breakfast food at the event, as 1,500 slabs of bacon were also cooked earlier in the morning prior to the event.

According to Parker, the feedback was so positive that they have already started talking about doing it again next year.

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