The St. Maries Fly-In and Pancake Breakfast will return its tenth year Saturday, July 20.

The annual event, which takes place at the St. Maries airport, invites both local residents and aviators from around the northwestern United States to come together for a home-cooked breakfast. Visitors can visit with pilots and get a close-up view of airplanes from all eras.

The annual gathering began in 2009 when Carol Koelbel’s husband, John Koelbel, sought to raise funds to support the local airfield and aviation. The breakfast was planned in the 4th week of July, between the dates of two regional airshows, in order to allow more pilots to attend. Open invitations were posted at ten regional airports, encouraging aviators with classic planes to fly in and enjoy a meal with St. Maries residents.

“When it started it was my husband and four other people cooking eggs and sausage and pancakes, and a couple of guys directing traffic for the planes,” she said. “We ended up having 43 people and 15 airplanes.”

Since then, Ms. Koelbel said the fly-in breakfast has grown to attract an average of 200 to 300 people and dozens of planes each year. Last year’s fly-in breakfast was their largest to date, with more than 400 people joining the pilots of approximately 50 planes at the airfield. That event coupled the annual breakfast with a tribute to Jack Buell for his contributions to the community.

Ms. Koelbel said she and approximately 12 workers take on the project each year. Preparations begin in February when she sends out publications of the date, and food is purchased and collected from April to June. She said the breakfast requires 40 pounds of pancakes, 80 pounds of ham, 60 pounds of sausage and 20 pounds of cheese each year.

“I basically handle most everything up until two days before the fly-in,” she said. “Then I’ve got about three or four people for parking cars, another three or four parking planes, and another group cooking and serving. We’re very close, and they all know what to do. I really need good, quality people for this event, and they’re it.”

The Fly-In and Pancake Breakfast will be Saturday, July 20 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The event will take place rain or shine. The cost is $5 for adults, and children under 12 eat free. Funds from the event will pay for maintenance and renovations to the airport. Parking space is available on the airfield this year, and courtesy cars, fuel and other services are available for aviators. For more information, call 208-245-2914.

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