LIBERAL, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas Mardi Gras tradition that stretches back decades had a bit of a hiccup Tuesday, but that didn’t stop the celebrations in Liberal, where they ran the annual Fat Tuesday pancake race.
The pancake race is a tradition that stretches back to 1950 when women in Olney, England began competing against women in Liberal to see who could run the fastest foot race while flipping pancakes in a frying pan.
This year’s winner, Maggie Lapinski, moved to Liberal last summer.
“I’m really excited, tired, but I wanted to come out and see if I could win, so I’m pretty excited that I was able to do that,” said Lapinski.
The tradition started when a busy housewife in Olney arrived at church still clutching her frying pan with a pancake in it. Liberal then challenged Olney, and it’s been a friendly trans-Atlantic competition ever since.
Tuesday’s race brought in race fans from as far away as Denver.
“I think it’s great,” said Carol Mulligan, who was visiting from Denver. “My one daughter that lived here is a twin, and her twin actually lived right outside Olney the first year I came, so we sort of had a connection over in England as well.”
Even Governor Sam Brownback had something to say about the race.
“They take a 60-, 65-second race, 62-second race I guess this year, and make it into a three-day celebration, and it’s a great community that pulls together, so I was glad to be out here to celebrate with them,” said Brownback.
This year, though, Olney had issues with the race timer. So, officially this year’s race is a tie between Lapinski and Olney’s Kaia Larkas, but that’s not stopping Lapinski from celebrating.
“I think I’ll have some pancakes for dinner,” Lapinski said. “I skipped pancakes for breakfast because I didn’t want my stomach to hurt.”
The winner of this year’s race received two round-trip tickets from Pen Air, with other prizes including an engraved silver tray, a prayer-book from the City of Olney, and a gift basket from local stores.