It’s almost that time of year again. Are you ready for the sound of country music in the morning, the wheels kicking up dirt at the chuckwagon races, the excitement of carnival rides, and the smell of pancakes wafting in from downtown? Many local businesses love jumping on board the annual tradition of serving flapjacks during Alberta’s world famous rodeo.
What do pancakes have to do with the Calgary Stampede? What does breakfast have in common with, well, any of this? It all started in 1923, the inaugural year of the chuckwagon races. A local archivist credits a chuckwagon driver for kicking off the tradition. These days, you can find breakfasts ranging from the very small to the absolutely massive (we’re looking at you, Chinook Centre). Either way, there’s something for everyone.
Have you ever thought about jumping on the bandwagon yourself? While those who have hosted many events won’t need a complete pancake breakfast guide, we think one will help any first-timer. Whether you want to treat your family, friends, employees or customers, here are the key steps to hosting the perfect pancake breakfast for Stampede:
- Get bulk ingredients and supplies
If you’re a Costco member, bonus. If not, head to your nearest grocery store for ingredients. Most basic pancakes just need flour, milk, egg, baking powder, sugar, salt and oil. If you won’t have easy access to a fridge during your event (eggs and milk don’t do well sitting out in summer weather, and neither will a giant vat of premade batter), you might want to pick up instant pancake mix instead. Add chocolate chips or banana for a real treat.
Make sure you have all the tools you’ll need to host a breakfast big enough for the people you plan to invite. How many pancakes can you reasonably fit on a griddle? How many griddes and spatulas do you need? Do you have enough bowls and mixing spoons? How about biodegradable plates, cutlery, and napkins for serving? And will you have enough volunteers to make pancakes?
- Plan and promote
Most pancake breakfasts last for two to three hours. It’s not too late to choose a date, time, and location. Just make sure you promote your event as soon as you have it on the calendar. If you’re just hosting something for friends and family, a private message group or Facebook event should be all you need. If you’re putting this together as a public event, you may be able to add it to this list of all pancake breakfasts happening during Stampede (schedule, breakfast map and all: https://stampedebreakfast.ca/). If your event is free, there’s a website for that, too (http://www.freestampedepancakes.com/).
- Set up a welcoming table
If your breakfast will take place outdoors, it’s a good idea to rent a pop-up canopy to shelter guests from the sun. You can use long folding banquet tables to create an assembly line style setup. Bring a small speaker to play music, and print signage. Think about offering drinks as well (a big beverage dispenser and compostable cups should do the job). Will guests ‘eat and run’, or do think they would appreciate a folding chair?
- Be efficient
Remember that assembly line concept? Have signs or volunteers first guide guests to the closest end of the table to pick up plates, utensils and napkins. Next, guests can either pick up pancakes from a serving tray where you’re stacking them all, or if it’s a busy morning you can serve them directly from the griddle (with a smile, of course).
- Clean up
Once your pancake breakfast is over, have some volunteers help you put everything away. Try to be as eco-friendly as possible by recycling or composting leftover food and biodegradable supplies. If you rented anything, return it as soon as you can. ‘Leave no trace’, as they say, and give yourself a pat on the back for hosting a fun event!