FARGO - Forget groundhogs and bouts of unseasonable weather. Arday Ardayfio, president of the Fargo Kiwanis Club, says there's one sure sign of winter's retreat, as "spring doesn't happen until the Pancake Karnival."

That'd be the Kiwanis Pancake Karnival, the annual community get-together and fundraiser for the organization's grant programs. This is the 54th year for the hit event, held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Fargodome.

The bonanza of breakfast once set a world record by serving nearly 35,000 pancakes in eight hours and got a shoutout in the 2007 book "1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before You Die."

It's a dizzying feat of logistics, manpower and flapjack finesse. Here's how the feast breaks down by the numbers:

<•> The event is expected to draw about 12,000 guests. In its record-setting year, it drew 16,500 people, but the crowds - and a switch to slower-cooking electric griddles - produced long lines and 90-minute waits that grated the griddles of some attendees. The pancake panic has since subsided, and organizers are less aggressive about setting records.

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<•> Over the event's 12 hours, those guests could pack in as many as 48,000 pancakes. For a little perspective, if you ate four pancakes a meal, three meals a day, you'd hit that number in about 11 years (and make your local Denny's very happy in the process).

<•> The Karnival will use 380 pounds of buckwheat and 3,030 pounds of buttermilk to make its pancakes. A dairy cow is good for about 55 pounds of milk a day. If it was producing buttermilk - which yes, is impossible - it would take a lone cow about six months to generate enough milk to mix as much batter as the hotcakes will require.

<•> An army of 600 volunteers will help dish up 68 cases of sausages, each holding 50 pounds of links. That's 3,400 pounds of meat, roughly what a Cadillac ATS weighs. So the Karnival will feature about a luxury sedan of sausage.

<•> Diners will wash down their meals with 14,000 individual cartons of milk and another 14,000 of orange juice cartons. That's almost enough to give a drink to every fan at the biggest Bison home crowds ever for both football and basketball.

<•> For those who need a little help getting up and running at 7 a.m. on a Saturday, there'll be 72 pounds of coffee, or roughly 3,000 eight-ounce cups. At $2 a cup for a 20 oz. drink, that would cost $2,400 at a coffee shop.

<•> And if the little ones get their hands on that coffee, never fear: There will be 12 to 15 inflatable games on hand, provided by Games Galore, to help them blow off steam. If you don't have time to let them hit the bounce house, don't fret. The whole point is youth activities. The feed should raise about $40,000 for its program grants.

If you go

  • What: Fargo Kiwanis Pancake Karnival
  • When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Fargodome
  • Info: $5 in advance and $6 at the door. Free for children age 5 and under. Parking is free.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502