Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Forty-nine years of serving others at Faribault Lions Club Super Bowl Pancake Breakfast February 2, 2015

 

Bob Cross mixes pancake batter following his secret recipe.

Bob Cross mixes pancake batter following his secret recipe.

SNUGGED IN THE BACK of the Faribault Eagles Club kitchen, around the corner from griddles and a serving line, Bob Cross mixed pancake batter Sunday morning.

Signs advertise the event and thank sponsors.

Signs advertise the event and thank sponsors.

I expected him to shoo me away, to hesitate at sharing the secret recipe for pancakes prepared at the Faribault Lions Club 49th annual all-you-can-eat Super Bowl Pancake and Sausage Breakfast.

The secret ingredient: cake donut mix.

The secret ingredient: cake donut mix.

But Bob welcomed my questions, allowed me to take photos. And although I didn’t get the precise recipe, I have a pretty good idea now what goes into these tasty pancakes. Eggs. Oil. Water or milk (sorry, I can’t recall which). And, the secret ingredient—cake donut mix, as in a pre-mixed combination of flour, sugar, salt, whey and more used in making cake donuts. The cake donut mix adds a touch of sweetness to the pancakes, Bob says.

Ten years ago this volunteer took over pancake batter prep duties from his father-in-law, Bill Harkins. Bill’s recipe has been tweaked and perfected, and legend has it that only Bob now knows the exact recipe.

An overview of a section of the spacious dining area.

An overview of a section of the spacious dining area.

He’s obviously got it right based on number of diners. When I checked with ticket sellers at 12:15 p.m., an hour before closing, 750 people had already gone through the line in 4.75 hours.

The featured foods, pancakes and sausage.

The featured foods, pancakes and sausage.

That’s a lot of pancakes. And we’re talking near dinner plate-sized pancakes.

The volunteer on the right makes pancakes for the first time at the breakfast.

The volunteer on the left makes pancakes for the first time at the breakfast.

But this breakfast is about more than the food. It’s about continuing a 49-year Faribault Lions Club tradition. It’s about seasoned pancake breakfast volunteers frying pancakes alongside newbies. It’s about high school students serving beverages and clearing tables. As cliché as it sounds, the Lions and crew work like a well-oiled machine.

Serving up pancakes and sausage.

Serving up pancakes and sausage.

This breakfast is about working together and dining together.

One of the beneficiaries: Basic Blessings Backpack Program.

One of the beneficiaries: the Basic Blessings Backpack Program.

It’s about giving back to the community with proceeds helping those in need.

Lions Club member Otto serves sausages.

Lions Club member Otto serves sausages.

It’s about service to others, following the Lions Club motto, “We Serve.”

Friends dine together.

Friends dine together.

As I wandered about taking photos, I saw a lot of people I knew, but also many I didn’t. I felt a sense of community in my city of some 23,000, a connection that comes from living in the same geographical area and from participating in a time-honored tradition.

A snippet of the long list of volunteers.

A snippet of the long list of volunteers.

Forty-nine years. That’s a long time for one organization to continue with a breakfast.

One couple brought their own pure maple syrup to pour onto the Lions Club pancakes.

One couple brought their own pure maple syrup to pour onto the Lions Club pancakes.

This is the first year I’ve attended. I don’t especially like pancakes. But I ate three Sunday morning, proof that the Lion’s Club pancakes are deserving of their long-standing praise.

A visually-impaired volunteer reads a book in Braille while working at the breakfast. The Faribault Lions have funded many projects for the visually-impaired and were collecting used eyeglasses at the breakfast.

A visually-impaired volunteer reads a book in Braille while working at the breakfast. The Faribault Lions have funded many projects for the visually-impaired and were collecting used eyeglasses at the breakfast.

Tradition. Secret recipe. A community coming together. Lions serving.

The ticket sellers' cheat sheet.

The ticket sellers’ cheat sheet.

On Super Bowl Sunday, the Lions Club Pancake and Sausage Breakfast scores as a big win in Faribault. For forty-nine years.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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