Sarah Schaeffer, Kay Young and Sherry Polkinghorn perched on makeshift benches, chatting merrily as they balanced foam plates on their laps.

Sarah Schaeffer, Kay Young and Sherry Polkinghorn perched on makeshift benches, chatting merrily as they balanced foam plates on their laps.
    The three friends attend as many Dodge City Days events as possible each year, including Fidelity State Bank's chuckwagon breakfast.
    And this year was no exception.
    "We come to breakfast and see everybody that we only see once a year at this breakfast," Polkinghorn said. "It's wonderful."
    Schaeffer added: "I don't know where these people are the rest of the year."
    And then one of the three women said, "Wal-Mart," setting off a wave of laughter.
    They weren't the only ones enjoying Wednesday's breakfast, a beloved Dodge City Days tradition.
    Despite the damp and gloomy weather, a long line of hungry people streamed through Boot Hill Museum's gates for the event. For a $2 admission, they received plates loaded with scrambled eggs, sausage and biscuits and gravy. Coffee, milk and orange juice completed the meal.
    Proceeds from the breakfast are divided between the museum and the Dodge City Days committee.
    Fidelity State Bank employees barely had time to breathe as they greeted guests, filled plates and replenished serving trays with food. One server armed with a coffee pot roamed throughout the complex, offering smiles as she refilled empty cups.
    Some diners sought shelter from the rain on the museum's boardwalk, where they leaned against walls or sat on wooden benches. After those spots filled up, guests  camped out on temporary benches or claimed seats at the picnic tables that dotted the grounds.
    Dodge City residents Bonita Hizar and Linda Denning snagged a spot on a boardwalk bench, where they chatted as they watched the crowd.
    Hizar said she appreciates the fellowship that comes with the meal and the chance to catch up with old friends.
    Denning added that she enjoys everything about the event, especially the music.
    "It'd be worth it if it was just thundering and lightning," she said. "We'd probably still be here."
    A steady buzz of conversation arose from the boardwalk as people finished their meals, then lingered to talk with their friends and neighbors.
    Some people said that the chuckwagon breakfast is one of their favorite Dodge City Days events, next to the Dodge City Roundup PRCA Rodeo.
    Among them was Dodge City resident Delores Cecil, who praised the food — especially the biscuits and gravy.
    "You have plenty to eat, and then they keep filling your coffee cup," she said.
    Polkinghorn and her friends also said they were pleased with the meal, reserving special praise for the gravy.
    "It was yummy," Polkinghorn said. "We think they have a new gravy recipe. Oh, it's good!"
    Schaeffer said she appreciated the chance to greet people she normally doesn't see, except at the breakfast.
    "This is an opportunity for everybody to get together," she said. "Normally, we don't take the time, but this is an opportunity where everybody takes the time to get together."
Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or e-mail him at