The public is cordially invited to the meal at St. Paul's which begins at 4:30 p.m. for those who want to "eat and run," and continues until 7 p.m. for those who want to "run and eat."
In 2008, a St. Paul's United Methodist Church adult Sunday School class discussion about Easter and Lent traditions cooked up the intriguing Cherokee event that for the last three years promised and delivered both immense fun and celebration in conjunction with the Lenten Season.
The success and sizzle of that first event in 2009 so capably performed and embraced by the entire Cherokee community, naturally led to the second annual event in 2010, and the third in 2011, again set for "Fat Tuesday" the day before Ash Wednesday.
In England many years ago the tradition was established for housewives to use the food ingredients that they would otherwise stop using during Lent on "Shrove Tuesday" and to use those ingredients to make pancakes. The custom evolved into a Shrove Tuesday race which is still conducted in Olney, England to this day.
The race includes women who wear a dress, an apron, and a head scarf, all carrying a pan with a pancake. At the start of the race, all runners must flip their pancake, then run (or walk) the 415-yard course, winding through town and ending at St. Paul's where they must again flip their pancake to finish.
The racers then enter the church, place their pans in front of the sanctuary, and a brief "Shriving Service" is conducted with recognition given to the runners at this time.
This year the race also will recognize the churches with the largest number of participants, and the registration form will have a spot for registrants to note church affilication, regardless of whether they are on a team, or participating individually.
There also is interest in a "relay team," something organizers had in the first race when 22 women from a Bible study group passed a single pan from start to finish. Each relay team member must register, but they do not need to note which relay they are a part of.
The event is coordinated by St. Paul's, but community-wide participation is again encouraged and actively being sought. Many of the local clergy already have committed to a variety of "official" duties for the race (starter, course judge, finish line judge, flip judge) and will be easily spotted with their towering chef's hats.
Registration forms and instructions are available at City Hall, St. Paul's office, and in pdf format on the web site for St. Paul's (firstname.lastname@example.org/). Registrations are due by Monday, Feb. 20 and early registrations are recommended, as the race is limited to a manageable 100 contestants.
Race participants are limited to women age 18 or older. The race is open to the public. Recognition will be given to those who finish the race first, and also for a number of categories not directly related to speed or athletic ability. Pans and pancakes will be provided. Age, gender, and running garb rules will be strictly enforced. It's tradition.
Teams are encouraged and crutches and wheelchairs are welcomed as usual. Outstanding dress and athletic performances will be recognized, including a team fashion award.
"This is planned as a fun event where all who compete can participate in a memorable experience," noted chief organizers Jennie Burroughs and J.C. Cook of St. Paul's. "Due to the outstanding success of our past races, we are excited to bring this to the public again. It's a joyful experience for all involved."
The race also has a historic side, explained Cook, as the area of the race is within the designated Historic District of Cherokee. Two centuries ago, Cherokee's Courthouse Hill was known as "Piety Hill" as it had five churches on and around it. The race passes the sites and former sites of the churches on Piety Hill - the old Congregational Church (where Post Office is now), the Presbyterian Church (near the corner of South 5th and Main Streets), the Catholic Church (part way up the hill on the south side of Main Street), and the Methodist and Lutheran Churches (Methodist at N. 6th and Main, Lutheran just south of it).
The Cherokee City Council has approved closing portions of Pine Street, West Willow Street, North Fifth Street, and West Main Street for "The Great Pancake Day Race of Cherokee" 2012.
The race, which must cover 415 yards (little over quarter of a mile) is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 beginning in the City Hall parking lot.
All contestants shall attend the Shriving Service that immediately follows the race, where awards will be presented and the pans returned. Individual and team photos will be taken in the church lounge adjacent to the dining room after the Shriving Service.
For questions, registration forms, or more information, call St. Paul's at 225-3955, or e-mail email@example.com.
The official Pancake Day website is www.pancakerace.com.