LIBERAL, Kan. (KWCH) – A tradition since 1950, the city of Liberal, Kan. competed in a friendly match against Olney, England in the International Pancake Race. On Tuesday, the 74th year of racing, Olney took back his bragging rights after Liberal claimed victory last year.
Each year, participants from each community determine who can run the fastest in a 415-yard race, including throwing a pancake.
The tradition that created International Pancake Day is an age-old legend in Olney. Legend has it that it all began on a Sunday in 1445 when an Olney woman was preparing a pancake when she heard the church bells ringing. To make sure she wasn’t late for the service, she hurried to the church, wearing an apron and holding the frying pan with a pancake in it.
In 1950, Liberal challenged Olney to a pancake contest after seeing the English event in a magazine. The two communities continued to challenge each other remotely every Shrove Tuesday, better known as International Pancake Day.
The event was canceled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but resumed last year.
Despite not being able to repeat themselves as victors, those who gathered at Liberal Tuesday morning enjoyed the annual pancake feast and revelry surrounding the tradition for the southwestern Kansas city that dates back nearly three-quarters of a century.