Hill City Senior Center is cooking up breakfast for bikers

By Jeff Smith

On Aug. 6, bikers lined up for the all you can eat breakfast at the Hill City Senior Center. For more than 20 years there has been a team of volunteers serving and making the food for bikers.

August 6 was a pretty hectic day for the volunteers at the Hill City Senior Center. Bikers came in waves for all you can eat bacon, pancakes, eggs, and biscuits and gravy.

About 45 volunteers have been helping out at the Hill City Senior Center for the Biker Breakfast.

Volunteers started setting up at the senior center last Wednesday and then it continued to Thursday and Friday.

“It has to go in stages since not everything was ready to go,” said Kris Pennel, director of the Hill City Senior Center.

They started getting supplies for the event the end of July.

People came and went during the set up stage.

“Some have done it so many years they know exactly what to do,” Pennel said.

Signs for the all-you-can eat biker breakfast went up on August 1. They already had people coming in on the following days to have breakfast. Pennel had to tell them they hadn’t started yet but offered them a bagel.

Dale Householder, president of the Hill City Senior Center, said that they are doing one sandwich, one cookie, and bag of chips this year for $5. Pennel said that a lot of the times they do something for a year and then move on to something else.

Bikers come in and say that they eat at the senior center every year. For many bikers it is best place to eat in the Hills while they are here.

The place is set up to have 80 people inside of the Hill City Senior Center. Outside, there are 14 tables for bikers and other guests.

“It is our biggest money maker. It is how we run the center for a full year,” Pennel said.

Pennel has been the director of the senior center for a year. During that time there was not one time where they didn’t have enough volunteers for something. She said that is so great for a town the size of Hill City.

“There’s a phenomenal crew of volunteers,” Pennel said.

Pennel said she was going to show up at 5 a.m. of the first day of the breakfast. The rest of the people were going to show up at 6 or 7 a.m.

“Early mornings, but it’s only for eight days,” Pennel said.

Bill Kassube of Hill City has volunteered for four years at the senior center breakfast. He was cooking bacon on a grill on the morning of Aug. 6. Kassube said he volunteers at the breakfast because he loves it, which is probably similar to what a lot of volunteers would say. The most bacon he and others cooked in a day was 120 lbs. which happened during the 75th Rally.

Judy Swift of Hill City said it’s a fun week to be a volunteer.

Swift said it’s her 11th year working at the senior center and she works there every day. She said she is usually in the kitchen.

Rik Drewes of Pierre said he was at the senior center breakfast for the fifth or sixth time.

He has returned every year.

“I love it here,” Drewes said.

He expounded on that by saying he loves the scenery, the feel of everything and how everybody is always friendly.

Dawn Flying Hawk was eating breakfast with her family from North Dakota. She said she found out about the breakfast because a lady was handing out flyers and told her it was “all you can eat.”

“It’s better than Denny’s,” Flying Hawk said.

Flying Hawk said the people were polite and the atmosphere was awesome.

“The bees are the only problem because they like the syrup,” Flying Hawk said.

She was a proud grandmother of eight grandchildren.

“I’m just so happy,” Flying Hawk said.

She is not sure how the vacation ended up being around the time of the Sturgis Rally but was enjoying it anyway.

“There’s lots of stuff to see,” Flying Hawk said.

Daniel Fuchs of Loveland, Colo. said he came three or four years ago. This year he knew it would be good and cheap. His group rode for six hours with fuel stops to get to the Black Hills.

“There’s so much to experience. There’s always next year,” Fuchs said.

Last year the senior center went through 90 gallons of orange juice, 600 dozen eggs, 24 dozen cinnamon rolls, 25 cases of biscuits and 24 cases of bacon that are 25 lbs. each. The pancakes come in 10 lb. packages and last year they went through 21 of those.

Everything at the breakfast is made fresh every day.

The brand new tent that is outside is green and gold. Householder said they did it that way because they had the Rangers in mind.

The new tent was purchased thanks to generous donations.

“We lost ours in the storms last year,” Pennel said.

When everything is done, Pennel is hoping they see increased numbers from last year. Pennel went over the numbers from last year and there were more people at the breakfast every day except one from 2016 to 2017.

Volunteer Mikal Lewis said Tuesday of the Rally is usually the busiest day for whatever reason.

The first two days of the breakfast the senior center broke the record over last year’s.

The last day for the senior center breakfast is Aug. 11.