PALMYRA — The Palmyra Flying Club has been around since 1947, and it’s been hosting Drive-in, Fly-in Father’s Day Breakfasts since 1949, with the notable exception of last year’s, which was canceled due to the pandemic.
This year, the Drive-in/Fly-In Breakfast is back June 20 as big as ever, with an added bonus.
On top of the meals, wagon tours, displays, vendor booths, airplane and helicopter rides and other activities, the event will also feature free one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone age 18 and up who is interested and has not yet been vaccinated.
“We’re counting this as our 71st year,” said David Linton, Palmyra Flying Club treasurer, noting that the club was pleased to be able to return to its long-running tradition this year.
“Normally, it’s a pretty big deal,” he said. “We bring in anywhere between 1,600 to 2,200 people a year from all over.”
Attendance has historically varied a bit depending on the weather, but there are still plenty of stalwarts who show up even in a downpour.
As the area emerges out of the pandemic petrification that has canceled events large and small for the last year-plus, Linton said he thinks there will be a lot of “pent-up demand” for events like this.
To celebrate this milestone and to help the area win the fight against COVID-19, Linton said organizers from the club thought it would be a good idea to offer up the fly-in breakfast as a site for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We believe this is the best way to help our community return to normal,” Linton said.
Organizers first contacted Fort Memorial Hospital/Fort HealthCare, and were referred to the Jefferson County Health Department and the epidemiologist the county has been working with throughout the pandemic, Samroz Jakvani.
“The epidemiologist was really enthused,” Linton said. “They’re going to kind of use this as a template for other events like this. They want to get the shot out to people at fairs and festivals and other events.”
While COVID-19 shots have been widely available for adults and teens throughout the area for a couple of months now, Palmyra area residents have not really had a lot of opportunities to get the shot nearby.
“We just don’t have large venues for vaccination events,” Linton said.
However, the airport, where the Drive-In/Fly-In Breakfast will be held, fit the bill.
Administering the vaccinations will be Wisconsin National Guard members.
Jakvani recommended that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine be offered at the Palmyra event, so people driving and flying in from elsewhere — and residents of the surrounding rural area — don’t have to worry about scheduling a second shot.
The event will run from 7 a.m. to noon on Father’s Day at the Palmyra Airport located on North Second Street (state Highway 106) in Palmyra.
The vaccines will be provided from 9 to 11 a.m., first-come, first-serve.
The menu will feature pancakes, eggs, ham and the flying club’s signature radish side dish.
Linton explained that when the event was getting its start, the club was looking for volunteers to cover different responsibilities at the breakfast. One pilot, who also happened to be a vegetable farmer, offered a load of radishes for the meal.
“They turned out to be so popular that people asked for them every year,” Linton said.
Additional activities include an antique and classic car show, airplane and helicopter rides for a fee, wagon rides to see the full array of historic and modern airplanes at the site, various vendors and more.
Tickets for the meals cost $8 for adults and $4 for children under age 12.