News and Press Releases
Contact: Kara Howery, International Pancake Day Coordinator
620-624-6423 * firstname.lastname@example.org
Liberal Celebrates 74th International Pancake Day
For Immediate Release: 2/09/23
LIBERAL-The International Pancake Day Race, a tradition between Olney, England and Liberal, KS will take place, February 21st, 2023. This is the 74th year of the race on this side of the pond, but in Olney, England, the Pancake Race tradition dates back nearly 600 years to 1445.
A woman engrossed in using up cooking fats (forbidden during Lent) was making pancakes. Hearing the church bells ring calling everyone to the shriving service, she grabbed her head scarf (required in church) and ran 415 yards to the church, skillet and pancake in hand and still apron clad. In following years, neighbors got into the act and it became a race to see who could reach the church first and collect a "Kiss of Peace" from the verger (bell-ringer).
A TIME magazine picture of the Olney women racing each other to the church caught the eye of Liberal Jaycee’s President, R.J. Leete. He contacted the Rev. Ronald Collins, Vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul's church in Olney, challenging their women to race against women of Liberal. With that, we were off to the races!
This 74th year of racing also marks the 250th anniversary of the writing of the familiar hymn “Amazing Grace”. Why is that special to Pancake Day? The words to this hymn were first spoken during a service on January 1, 1773, by John Newton, curate of Olney’s St Peter and St Paul’s Church, the very church where the Pancake Day Race was born.
Although both countries have accessorized the day with a fun sporting event between the two communities, the primary reason for Pancake Day is based around the preparation for Lent. On both sides of the Atlantic the race still culminates with Shriving Services that feature the singing of “Amazing Grace” as an integral part of the service, and on this 250th year, it will be extra special.
The Liberal Recreation Department, 950 S. Grant, kicks off this year’s events, Saturday, February 18th, with the Pancake Chase 5k followed by Eating & Flipping contests. The Grand Marshall’s Reception, open to the public, will be February 20th at the Baker Arts Center. All other International Pancake Day events for February 21st. can be found at https://www.pancakeday.net .
“This will be my second Pancake Day that I am directly involved in, and it still makes me just as excited as when I learned about it, three years ago”, said International Pancake Day Coordinator, Kara Howery. “This is such a fun, playful tradition and I love seeing people come from all around the nation and even the world, to check it out. And to share this year with “Amazing Grace” is really quite touching. The hymn means so much to many, many generations of people. We are truly blessed to be sharing it with generations to come, even through something as whimsical as International Pancake Day.”