Roughly 1,300 miles away from the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, members of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church and hungry Cortez residents gathered for their own way to revel before Lent while raising money for a local charity: the annual Mardi Gras Pancake Supper and “celebrity pancake flipping race.”
The event is held every year to benefit Grace’s Kitchen, a food pantry and soup kitchen run out of St. Barnabas.
“We usually raise between $700 and $1000,” said pastor Leigh Waggoner.
A pancake feast the Tuesday before Lent, known as Shrove Tuesday in European Christian tradition, dates to the 15th century. Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, occurs 47 days before Easter. Pancake Day or Mardi Gras is the day to use up rich foods such as sugar, eggs and flour to prepare for the time of fasting.
The pancake recipe used by St. Barnabas volunteers also has a bit of a history, according to church member Betsy Jones.
“We’ve been using it for about 40 or 50 years, it was the recipe of Edah Peterson,” said Jones. “She and her husband were a pioneer couple around here. We use it every year, it’s wonderful.”
Following the fest, this year’s “celebrity pancake flipping race” featured Sheriff Steve Nowlin, executive director of KSJD Jeff Pope, pastor Chris Ludington of the Church of the Nazarene, and executive director of the Bridge Shelter Laurie Knutson.
After donning decorative aprons and fuzzy colorful socks over their shoes for equal parts traction-reduction and discomfiture, competitors were tasked to run a lap around the church courtyard while flipping a pancake in a frying pan – a feat that was easier said than done.
Pope’s time was technically the fastest, but after time-keeper Bob Waggoner announced the winner could be adjusted for some extra donations, a different champion was named.
Amid raucous laughter and cheers, last year’s race champion, police chief Roy Lane, threw an extra $7 in the donation pot, edging Nowlin up to the top.
“Considering our generous contribution, our new Sheriff Steve Nowlin has won,” Waggoner proclaimed with a laugh, handing off the coveted golden spatula to the sheriff.
Grace’s Kitchen at St. Barnabas takes donations year round. To find out more information call 970-565-7865.