by Chris Studor
What do you put on Buzzard Day pancakes? The answer is Buzzard Sauce, made from the sap of the Simmons’ family maple trees in Hinckley! Ashlee and Charlie Davis started making their special version of maple syrup, tagging it “Buzzard Sauce,” two years ago. They proudly displayed a bottle at their table, bearing a label with the picture of none other than Binky the Buzzard, at the 66th annual pancake breakfast held on Buzzard Sunday, March 19.
Sausage King Dale Chorba said the event’s breakfast sausage continues to have it’s own following as well.
“I think we are at the point where we are selling about as much pre-sale sausage as we do at the actual breakfast,” said Chorba. “Our local producer, Five Star Meats, makes it special for Buzzard Day and this year we are at about 700 pounds.”
As part of the festivities, the walls of the Hinckley Elementary School cafeteria were decorated with pictures of buzzards students colored and, once again, Nate the Great, Nate Nawalaniec, produced endless balloon animals for children. Nate’s grandfather, Walter Nawalaniec, was a Metroparks ranger who helped bring recognition to the annual return of the buzzards.
The school gymnasium was filled with vendors and community organizations. Angelina Sheetz was selling a variety of aromatherapy products she makes in her Hinckley home. Liz Csank offered metal buzzard signs made by her brother, Karl Kastl lll, whose father created the cartoon character Binky the Buzzard which has appearing for 41 years on the cover of The Hinckley Record. Csank also offered t-shirts bearing the Kastl’s Binky character.
The Buzz Carnival, held in the former fire station bay area at town hall, held a packed crowd. Table after table of local merchants and clubs offered residents plenty of games and information. At the Brooklyn Exchange Cabin table, members Bob Gillingham and Jim Burns challenged guests to balance cookies on their foreheads and wiggle them down to their mouths – some made it, but many hit the floor. The club holds events, such as the annual Steak Roast, with the proceeds going to help local children’s charities.
A brand new attraction for 2023 was the Improvaneers, a troop of young people with developmental disabilities who perform Improvisational comedy interacting with their audience. The group has been featured on the Today Show and Inside Edition. The troop had the audience giggling as it presented an alien skit.
Also new this year was the debut of a documentary on Buzzard Day, shown in the senior room, complete with free popcorn. It was written and produced by a team of Hinckley residents, Brian Elles and Kyle Adams.
The grand finale was the pet show and pet owners didn’t disappoint their audience as with pets of all types, including silky chickens, costume-wearing dogs and a gerbil wearing bunny ears.
“This year’s crowd is really enthusiastic,” said Melinda Swan, Hinckley Chamber of Commerce president. “We had a number of new attractions and exhibits and it all worked out. I’d like to thank our many sponsors and volunteers which make Buzzard Day possible with the proceeds going to local scholarships.” ∞
Featured Photo: Maverick Simmons (right) holds a bottle of his family’s homemade maple syrup. The family, which also includes parents Charlie and Ashlee Simmons, along with their daughter, Danan, and sons, Terry and Bennett, used sap from the maple trees on their Hinckley property to make the syrup they showed off on Buzzard Sunday. Photos by C. Studor.