Many years ago, some folks with the American Legion in Lawrence decided to raise money to support baseball teams. They settled on a pancake feed as the best way to do so.
How many people attended the first meal isn't known, but the group brought in $139, said Alan Fisher, a member of the American Legion and participant in the annual pancake feed since about 1955.
"They thought it was a rousing success, and we've been doing it ever since," Fisher said.
The Legion will hold its 56th Annual Pancake Feed from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at its post, 3408 W. Sixth. The all-you-can eat event is $6 for adults and $3 for children. All of the funds for the event go to support the four baseball teams sponsored by the American Legion.
Ron Goodwin, who serves on the baseball committee for the American Legion, said Lawrence was the only American Legion in the state that sponsored four baseball teams. Two of the teams -- the Lawrence Bandits and the Lawrence Mavericks -- are for boys 16 and younger, while the Lawrence Outlaws and the Lawrence Raiders are for men and boys 19 and younger.
"It's pretty much unheard of to sponsor this many teams," Goodwin said.
The budget for the four teams runs about $30,000, said Lee Ice, an associate member of the American Legion. The pancake feed is expected to raise $5,500 towards the regular-season costs -- any extra money raise will be saved to pay the teams' travel costs if they qualify for state postseason play.
For the last two years, the Lawrence Raiders have won the state championship in its division, and the Lawrence Outlaws took fourth place last year. The Lawrence Bandits won the state championships last year.
But the feed has become more than just eating pancakes and sausage and helping local baseball players. Goodwin said the event was beloved in the community.
|When: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. SaturdayWhere: American Legion, 3408 W. SixthTickets: $6 adults, $3 children|
"If we didn't do this, I think there would be a lot of outrage," he said. "A lot of people turn out for this. I think part of it is to support American Legion baseball. But this is also a time for people to visit and catch up with friends they haven't seen in awhile."
Fisher said the event gradually had grown over the years. Legion members no longer use homemade pancake batter, and the location has changed several times to meet demand.
But the Legion has added to the menu by now serving sausage and biscuits and gravy in addition to the pancakes. And American Legion members have never used paper plates or plastic utensils for the event.
"We do try to put on a high-class event," Fisher said. "We always use china and metal utensils. That means there's a big dishwashing project."