WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — It was reported over the weekend that the 65th annual University Kiwanis Club’s Pancake Festival is canceled because of COVID concerns.
The club’s president Mary Rhoads said usually they serve about 1,000 people an hour, every year so even if they had the festival with social distancing guidelines, Rhoads said the festival would not be the same.
The University Kiwanis Club Pancake Festival is an annual tradition in Wichita Falls.
2020’s festival would have made it 65 years running but because of the pandemic and social distancing guidelines, officials with the club decided to cancel this year’s event.
“There are probably well over 13,000 people there during the day, it’s a real crowd at the pancake grills,” Rhoads said. “We can spread out the sausage distribution but we cannot spread out the grills and we don’t have enough volunteers to be varying pancakes to go like a drive-thru event.”
“We tried to figure out a way to make that happen but there are so many people, it’s just too many people to make that happen safely,” Wichita Falls Multi-Purpose Events Center General Manager Michael Tipton said.
Although this cancellation does hurt the finances of the MPEC, Tipton said the future looks bright.
The Wichita Falls Warriors have been playing in Kay Yeager Coliseum since October, Backdoor Theatre has several events planned for January and the Symphony Orchestra is set to return to Memorial Auditorium for the first event in that space since the beginning of the pandemic.
“January’s gonna be busy, COVID’s been a little bit of a blessing and a curse for us [but] we’ve been able to keep going where some other facilities around the country have shut down,” Tipton said. “Our staff is greatly reduced so we’ve been working 7 days a week, most of us, trying to keep events going with our limited staff.”
As for the University Kiwanis Club, it will still offer a drive-by festival.
When the club dedicates its new all-inclusive playground, people can pre-order pancake mix and sausage to cook at home.
“They can purchase it and then they can drive here, see the playground, pick it up and drive home, cook it themselves and maybe they’ll appreciate all the cooking and work we do each year,” Rhoads said.
While the pancakes and sausage will be cooked at home this year, the money will still go to a great cause.
The club is hoping to have that dedication on March 27, 2021, and they are still taking donations for that playground.