Kiwanis marks 50 years of Pancake Day

Kiwanis marks 50 years of Pancake Day

The view from behind the 1969 operation of the Kiwanis Pancake Day, held on Main Street then, as it was for decades. Photo special to the Sentinel / Don Teets



What began rather inauspiciously in 1967 as a side event to the long-running Colorado Stampede Rodeo will celebrate 50 years on Saturday, as the Kiwanis Club of Grand Junction will be treating people to breakfast once again as part of their fundraising Pancake Day and Fun Fest.

The griddles get started early on Saturday at Two Rivers Convention Center, with service beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing until 1 p.m. Tickets cost $6 at the door, and include all-you-can-eat pancakes, along with some other breakfast items, served up by a slew of Kiwanis Club members and local volunteers.

Today, the pancake fundraiser is a great chance for families to come out to Two Rivers and hang out and have breakfast — there’s musical entertainment, a silent auction, and information booths featuring the nonprofits who help children and are beneficiaries of the funds raised at the annual event.

It wasn’t always the weekend, family-focused event that it is today.

In fact, the first Kiwanis Club Pancake Day in 1967 was held on a Friday, on Main Street in front of the Colony Family Bakery. And rather than attracting flapjack-loving families, for the most part, the quick street-made breakfast was an end-of-the-week treat for business folks who worked downtown.

“(Originally) the companies that supported us would send their workers down there,” said Sue Kiser, president-elect of the club, and as such, in charge of coordinating the annual event this year.

“It used to be we were overwhelmed with people eating pancakes from 6 a.m. to about 9 a.m., and now that we’ve changed it to Saturday, it’s become a family event. We start slow (at 8 a.m.), and then peak around 10 a.m. or 11 a.m.,” Kiser said.

Between 1967 and 1982, Kiwanis Pancake Day was an event connected to the Colorado Stampede Rodeo, hosted by the Mesa County Sheriff and Posse. Until 1981, it was held on Main Street. But the next year it moved to its new home at the spacious (and weather-resistant) Two Rivers Convention Center. In 1983, it became its own standalone fundraising event.

Corporate sponsorships were added in 1998, and today, those sponsorships are the primary way funds are raised in conjunction with the event, Kiser said. Corporate sponsors receive a select number of tickets for their sponsorships, and then are able to hand them out to community members.

Another big change in the event happened in 2015, when after 47 years, the pancake flipping moved to Saturday. Nonprofit booths were also added that year, forever changing the nature of the event.

The recent changes “just changed the personality of the event entirely,” Kiser said.

The Pancake Day project is the club’s biggest of three throughout the year, and generates more than $50,000 for local nonprofits who support children’s services.

The Kiwanis Club serves individuals and children with disabilities in Mesa County, a number estimated by the club to be more than 20,000.

More information about the event, as well as links with information for potential future sponsors, can be found online at kiwanis-gj.org.


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