Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Lions Club serves Faribault community at 52nd annual Super Bowl breakfast February 2, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS AND ST. PAUL are getting lots of media attention these days as host cities of Super Bowl LII and related events. That’s to be expected. I’m grateful for that exposure, as long as Minnesotans aren’t portrayed as characters right off the set of Fargo. (Ahem, Minneapolis-based Surly Brewing.) Sure we draw out the vowel “o,” but we don’t talk with exaggerated accents. Not even in Greater Minnesota.

I digress.

I pulled this breakfast promo from the Faribault Lions club Facebook page.


Super Bowl LII in Minnesota reaches beyond the Twin Cities metro. There’s Browerville in central Minnesota, home to extended family of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. And then there’s Faribault, about an hour south of U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis and home to a 52-year Super Bowl tradition—the annual Lions Club Super Sunday Pancake & Sausage Feed. Yes, you read that right. Fifty-two years.


The featured foods, pancakes and sausage. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.


Sunday from 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., the Lions will serve this all-you-can-eat Super Bowl Day breakfast to hundreds at the local Eagles Club in my community. I’ve attended once or twice. I’m not a fan of pancakes. But I am a fan of this Lions Club endeavor to raise monies for local causes such as the Basic Blessings Backpack Program, scholarships, dictionaries for local third graders and more.


Posted in the dining area at the 2015 breakfast. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.


With a club motto of “We Serve,” the Lions are also collecting used prescription eyeglasses and hearing aids to redistribute to those in need. And, for the first time, they are offering a free vision screening to children ages six months to six years through Lions Kidsight USA, a community eye screening endorsed by Lions Club International. The focus on vision and hearing is especially fitting for Faribault, home to the Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf and for the Blind.


Making pancakes at the 2015 breakfast. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.


Serving up pancakes and sausage. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.


Lions Club member Otto serves sausages. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.


I love how Faribault Lions members and others, year after year after year, for 52 consecutive years, have sold tickets, flipped pancakes, fried sausages and more on Super Bowl Sunday. That’s dedication. That’s commitment. They showcase the best of Minnesota as a place of kind, caring and compassionate people, from rural to metro.

© Copyright 2018 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


46 years of serving pancakes for a cause on Super Bowl Sunday February 2, 2012

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THEY’RE SYNONYMOUS in Faribault—the Super Bowl and pancakes.

For 46 years, the Faribault Lions Club has sponsored a pancake and sausage breakfast on Super Bowl Sunday, raising funds to support projects that adhere to the club motto: “We serve.”

Let me repeat that. Forty-six years. Wow. You have to admire an organization so committed to helping others. The Faribault Lions expect to feed 1,200 – 1,500 and raise $5,000 at their Super Bowl Pancake Breakfast.

Now I’m no fan of pancakes (ranking them right alongside liver) or of football, but I may have to eat pancakes this Sunday simply to support a worthy cause. I’ll skip the football except for the commercials.

The Faribault Lions provide funding for college scholarships, dictionaries for third graders, food for children in need, and assistance for the visual and hearing impaired, among other projects.

While all are worthy causes, the club’s effort on Sunday to collect used prescription eyeglasses and hearing aids and to raise dollars to assist those with visual and hearing impairments resonates with me.

I’ve worn glasses since age four, after undergoing surgery to correct crossed eyes. Without that surgery, I would have gone blind in my “lazy eye.” I value my vision and know that without corrective lenses, I would struggle to see.

Lions Club International’s commitment to helping those with vision issues stretches back to 1925 when Helen Keller presented this challenge during a speech to the Lions:

Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught; no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness?

And so with that challenge, the Lions became “Knights of the Blind,” collecting and distributing prescription eyeglasses through clinics world-wide. Can you imagine the joy of giving someone the gift of sight?

I just rummaged through a dresser drawer and found four eyeglasses that I can donate to the Faribault Lions Club on Sunday.

The prescription eyeglasses I'm donating.

Faribault Lions have also connected with the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind in Faribault, supporting numerous projects there, including an apartment to teach independent living skills.

My community is home to the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, perhaps another reason local Lions take such a strong interest in helping those who are hearing impaired.

I am among those with a hearing impairment having lost 70 percent of the hearing in my right ear last March in an episode defined as “sudden sensory hearing loss.” (Click here to read about that.) Unfortunately, a hearing aid will not help with this type of near-deafness.

But for most who suffer from a hearing impairment, a hearing aid will help. The Lions are committed to collecting used hearing aids for distribution to those in need. Can you imagine the joy of giving the gift of hearing?

It’s impressive, isn’t it, how so many worthy causes have evolved from two powerful words: “We serve.”

FYI: The Faribault Lions Club Super Bowl Pancake Breakfast will be held from 7:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. on Sunday, February 5, at the Eagles Club, 2027 Grant Street Northwest. Cost is $6 for adults and $4 for those 12 and under.

The Lions are also selling Super Bowl snacks—8-ounce packages of nuts for $5 – $6—to raise monies for their Backpack Blessings Program which provides local children in need with food for the weekends.

It should not go without stating here that many local businesses and volunteers (within and outside of the Faribault Lions Club) contribute to the annual Super Bowl breakfast.

Bring your used prescription eyeglasses and hearing aids, your money and your appetite on Sunday to participate in the “We serve” endeavor.

Click here to learn more about the Faribault Lions Club.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Pancakes for paper May 13, 2011

MY KNEE JERK REACTION went something like this: I pay taxes and now the school is hosting a pancake breakfast to buy “needed supplies.”

Because things aren’t always as they seem, I called Faribault High School to inquire about the Pancake Breakfast flier which was mailed to me on Thursday along with my son’s mid-quarter grades and information about ordering a $75 high school yearbook.

When the woman who answered the phone couldn’t help, she transferred me to Assistant Principal Dennis Germann’s voicemail. He explained everything to me in two return phone calls and now I feel much better and more informed.

Faribault Masonic Lodge #9 and Faribault Eagles Club #1460 are teaming up to raise monies for school supplies for students at FHS. Notebooks, inexpensive calculators, paper, project supplies, etc. will be given to students who can’t afford to purchase those basics, Germann told me. He added that nearly 50 percent of FHS students qualify for free or reduced school lunches. Translate that into families that could use some extra help with school expenses. The United Way has provided some assistance in the past with school supplies.

Germann welcomes the monies that will be raised at the Sunday, May 15, Pancake Breakfast from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Faribault Eagles Club. Cost of the breakfast, which includes all you can eat pancakes with a serving of sausage and eggs and milk, coffee or juice, is $7 for adults, $5 for students and free for those five and under.

It’s the first time apparently that the high school has been selected as the recipient of this Pancake Breakfast fundraiser. That’s why the flier caught me by surprise and I really didn’t understand the definition of “needed supplies.”

As the parent of a high schooler, and two FHS graduates, I’m happy to see secondary students benefiting from a fundraiser like this. Typically the focus is on elementary age kids. I know how quickly costs add up to buy school supplies for a teen. Last year, if I remember correctly, I forked out $100 for some fancy schmancy calculator my son needed for a math class. Students won’t get fancy calculators like that through this program (I think the school has some available to borrow). But at least they’ll get basic school supplies.

So much has changed in the decades since I graduated from high school and we really only needed 3-subject notebooks, pens, pencils, folders and loose leaf paper.

Now it’s way beyond paper, to needing computers and internet access at home. I bet many families out there can’t afford internet service. Thankfully free internet is available at the public library. But it isn’t always easy for students to get there when they need to do online research.

I wonder also about the cost of class field trips, if some students can’t afford even basic school supplies. I recently wrote a $27 check for my son to go on a field trip to the Science Museum to view the King Tut exhibit. I gave him another $15 for lunch, which even he told me was expensive. How do families with already stretched budgets manage these additional costs?

We shouldn’t need pancake breakfast fundraisers to supplement the cost of education. But we all know times are tough. So thanks, Eagles and Masons, for doing your part to organize this event that will help Faribault families.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling