A mascot walks around taking pictures with children and families. A giant blue “Lions” banner hangs over the entire venue. Hundreds of balls of cotton candy bagged and ready to be distributed.
But the pancakes are the real star of the Lubbock Lions Club Annual Pancake Festival held on Feb. 16 at the Civic Center.
The Lions Club celebrated 90 years in Lubbock with their 67th Annual Pancake Festival. The Pancake Festival is a local favorite, with many families attending the festival every year for more than 20 years.
The Lubbock Lions Club Annual Pancake Festival is the largest pancake festival in the world. They support local charities, and still hold the world record for most pancakes served in an eight-hour period by a non-profit organization.
Upon entering the venue, thousands of people line up for the all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage links. Additional tickets could be purchased and exchanged for bacon, cotton candy, temporary face tattoos, popcorn and balloons. There also is a drink station with gallons of coffee, orange juice and milk.
Nine serving lines accommodate the throng of people who are ready for as many pancakes as they can consume. Most families and friends were already seated enjoying extra large pancakes and sausage links. The brave were sitting in front of the stage where local country singers, and even child yodelers, were performing.
The Lions Club donates all profits raised by the Pancake Festival to more than 30 charities, with a goal of $130,000 donated this year. Last year, $114,000 was donated to charities, including The Adult Eyeglass Program, Boy Scout Troop 157, LISD Eyeglasses for Children, Children’s Miracle Network, Meals on Wheels, The Salvation Army, Sick Children’s Clinic of Lubbock, YWCA Adaptive Aquatics Program, Catholic Charities, and Texas Lions Camp for children with special needs.
Brad Payne, a Pancake Festival co-chair and Texas Tech alum, said the event helps bring the community together for a good cause.
“We’re aware of how many lives have been touched by our service projects,” Payne explained. “This is a great tradition, and the Pancake Festival is a terrific event that we are proud to present each year. It gives our entire community an opportunity to gather together and support many worthy causes.”
There are many smiling faces, and families sitting across from one another who may have been strangers, but became neighbors sharing an experience and supporting their community at the Pancake Festival.
“We can come together around the table, the breaking of bread, well, pancakes, and people put aside their differences, and I think that’s a good thing,” said the Pancake Festival co-chair.
Even though The Lubbock Lions Club sponsors the event and plans it, Payne likes to think of the Pancake Festival as a Lubbock event. He also mentioned that the Pancake Festival is the only fundraiser that the Lions Club facilitates.
The very first Pancake Festival was held in the Lubbock High School cafeteria. It ran from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and tickets were only 50 cents, more than $1,000 was raised. Since then, the Pancake Festival has grown to serve thousands of hungry participants each year, with the mission of donating to local charities.
The Lions Club ordered a staggering amount of supplies for the festival, including, but not limited to, nearly 6,000 pounds of pancake mix, more than 320 gallons of pancake syrup, 80,000 links of sausage, 23,000 slices of bacon, 240 gallons of hot coffee and 135 gallons of margarine.
The Lubbock community responded with huge numbers attending the event, which also featured live entertainment and activities for children and adults. The Pancake Festival had a silent auction, a raffle with merchandise totaling more than $2,000 in value, and more than 2,000 bags of cotton candy.
Kelly Pinion, president elect of the Lions Club, was seen in the very center of the event handing out balloons and smiles. She has been a member of the Lions Club since 2006.
“One Hundred percent of the money we earn goes to the community and charity,” Pinion explained. “Nothing goes towards admin fees. It just warms your heart, talking to the kids, and getting to talk to people, and getting the word out about all the good things the Lions Club does.”
She added that the Lions Club helped eradicate a disease called “River Blindness” in Africa.
Many local families have made it a longtime tradition to bring their loved ones to the Pancake Festival.
Bennie and Carolyn Jordan said they have been taking their family to the Pancake Festival every year for more than 30 years.
“We make it every year,” Carolyn Jordan said. “It’s a tradition. Even our pastor is here.”
The Pachall family has been attending the festival for more than 28 years to enjoy the good food and music.
“We’ve been taking our kids and their kid’s kids here,“ said Jimmy Pachall. “We love it, and enjoy the good food and being able to spend time with our community.”
About 11,000 people attended the 2019 Lions Club Annual Pancake Festival, and the $130,000 goal to be donated to charity was exceeded by hundreds of dollars, according to Payne. The friendly environment and volunteers made this year’s Festival a success.