FARGO — With the sizzle of a sausage and a flip of a flapjack, one of the country's biggest pancake feeds will return to Fargo this Saturday, Feb. 15.
This year's Pancake Karnival kicks off a yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Fargo chapter of Kiwanis International, an organization of volunteers dedicated to serving children and families in the community. The highlight of the year, the Pancake Karnival, serves an average of 10,000 to 13,000 guests each year, with proceeds benefiting many local charities.
"It literally has grown into what I call a community happening," says Margie Bailly, chair of the Community Champion for Kids Award committee and former president of Fargo Kiwanis. "It serves every demographic of the community, which is really, really cool."
The pancake feed at the Fargodome features all-you-can-eat buttermilk or buckwheat pancakes served with maple syrup and butter, special Kiwanis sausage, milk, orange juice and unlimited coffee.
But, as Bailly says, Kiwanis isn't just about pancakes.
"It's always been kind of my goal, especially following my presidency, to make certain that people understood that women were in the club and it wasn't just a bunch of old guys," she says, "and that it serves primarily resources in the community that support children and families."
Each year since 2013, the Fargo Kiwanis chapter has awarded its Community Champion for Kids Award during the Pancake Karnival to people and organizations who have had a significant impact on the lives of children and families.
"We started (the Community Champion for Kids Award) and every year, we've gotten more nominations," Bailly says. "It's been really, really fun and it's a way for us to say to the community that this is what we do, this is who we support, this is who our partners are, this is where your pancake money goes."
Both the individual and organization awards will be presented during the annual program, which kicks off the club's centennial celebration, at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The individual award for 2020 will be awarded to Judge Wade Webb, former assistant state's attorney for Cass County and current district judge for Cass County since 2003. During his time as both the assistant state's attorney and district judge for Cass County, Webb prosecuted hundreds of child abuse and child sexual abuse cases and has volunteered and served for more than eight years as a juvenile drug court judge, in addition to his regular caseload. He's also served as a volunteer baseball coach for the Fargo Park District and Spartan youth baseball, working thousands of hours with young people of all economic levels. Webb has also been an active Kiwanis member for 15 years.
The YWCA won this year's organizational award. Since 1906, the YWCA has been empowering women to reach their full potential by providing both women and children with educational and leadership opportunities, along with safe and affordable housing. Through support from the community, the YWCA hopes to continue its work of helping women break the cycles of poverty and violence for themselves and their children.
While Mother Nature may have other plans for our February weather, Rick Stern, a Kiwanis member who has been involved with the Pancake Karnival for many years, says one thing's for certain.
"If you can make it to pancake day, spring is not far away," he says.
If you go
What: 62nd annual Fargo Kiwanis Pancake Karnival
When: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15
Where: Fargodome, 1800 N. University Drive, Fargo
Info: Tickets are $7 in advance or $8 at the door and are available at the Fargodome, local Hornbacher's stores, Alerus Financial (901 13th Ave. E., West Fargo, or 3137 32nd Ave. S., Fargo), Wimmer's Diamonds (602 Main Ave., Fargo, or the West Acres location), or from any Kiwanis member. Tickets include all-you-can-eat buttermilk or buckwheat pancakes served with maple syrup and butter, special Kiwanis sausage, milk, orange juice and unlimited coffee. Games Galore will also have inflatables available for children of all ages.