It's still something to flip out over.
Tuesday evening, the line at the Kansas National Guard Armory led around the nearly full tables to where pancakes — up to 96 at a time — sizzled on the grill.
For 40 years, the Hays Lions Club’s Standlee Dalton sausage and pancake feed has helped the service organization support community organizations and projects.
It started as a fundraiser to develop a park in north Hays, said Lions Club members Paul Phillips and Jim Stansbury. Named for a city commissioner and Fort Hays State University professor, Daniel G. Rupp Park originally was Lions Park. The group continues to support maintenance on the park, which includes a shelter house, basketball and volleyball courts, a playground, drinking fountain and open areas.
“Many, many thousands of dollars into that park,” said Stansbury, a former treasurer for the group.
In the first few years of the pancake feed, the club members did all the cooking at the armory.
“When we did this, the place was full of smoke,” Phillips said with a laugh. “We had griddles back there and they were hot and the smoke filled this place up.”
The club members attribute the event’s longevity to one person — the Pancake Man, Jim Kuper, Council Bluffs, Iowa.
“It would not have gone on this long if not for that man there,” Phillips said, watching Kuper pour pancake batter onto his homemade griddle.
“This is one of my favorite places to come,” Kuper said.
Kuper has been the Pancake Man for 33 years, he said, and has been coming to Hays for approximately 26 years. He started when his church asked him to conduct a pancake feed.
“So I went out and bought a welder, bought some metal and started building a grill,” he said.
For the first few years, he did pancake feeds while working odd jobs on the side.
“When I started tossing them, when I started flipping them, that’s when it took off,” Kuper said.
Dee Bodine, organizer of the pancake feed, said Kuper makes it fun, flipping the pancakes high in the air and even tossing them to waiting plates several feet away or even across the room.
The continued community support for the pancake feed is good to see, she said.
“This is probably our biggest money maker. And we get lots of help,” she said.
Students from Fort Hays State University helped set up Monday night, took tickets and cleaned up. Boy Scouts helped out in the evening, cleaning tables and assisting diners.
In addition to supporting Dan Rupp Park, proceeds from the pancake feed go to 4-H, Boy Scouts and the Community Assistance Center and also help provide eyeglasses for children locally and elsewhere through the Lions sight conservation program.