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Flapjack festival pledges changes for next year

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FARGO - An organizer for the Fargo Kiwanis Club Pancake Karnival said the group "made a major, major mistake" in not having enough grills, sausage cookers or coffee machines at Saturday's event.

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The Kiwanis will meet today to examine the event to avoid the mistakes from Saturday's event and plan for next year, said Richard Solberg, the group's Guinness Book of World Records contact.

The Kiwanis set the Guinness record for most pancakes served in an eight-hour period in 2008, but the Lubbock (Texas) Lions Club vows to break it this week.

Organizers for the Fargo Kiwanis event said Monday they were battered by a huge turnout and crowd control problems, and extra electric grills bought for the 51st annual feed couldn't crank out the cakes fast enough.

On the flip side, the 16,590 people served at the Fargodome were nearly 5,000 more than the event's previous high, they said

"The crowds just kept coming. It was huge," said longtime Kiwanis member Rick Stern.

"It's a great problem to have though," said event co-chair Shara Fischer. "The community really supported us. ... It was a huge success."

Foot-weary pancake lovers differ on that point.

In a chat on the InForum Web site, Susann of West Fargo called it her worst experience in two decades.

"Two hours in line, only to find out they had cut the sausage limit to one per person to speed up the line. Guess what ... It didn't work. ... This will probably be my last year attending. You owe me a sausage!"

Last year, the Kiwanis served 34,818 pancakes in eight hours. But grill and supply problems sank any shot at a record this year, he said. In all, 32,667 pancakes were served in the eight-hour record window.

"Our plan for next year is to double the production capabilities," to cut waits to less than 30 minutes, said Solberg, adding that the shortage of equipment was a "major, major mistake."

Stern said organizers had put on a marketing blitz, figuring Valentine's Day would make it tough to get 10,000 to show. Instead, it pushed attendance nearly 70 percent above last year's 10,198, he said.

The Kiwanis and Fargodome had long agreed there wouldn't be gas grills on the dome floor. That's why the Kiwanis bought extra electric grills. But those grills didn't cook fast enough, said event co-chairman Arday Ardayfio.

"Whatever we need, we're going to do it," he said. "We have to adjust our process to accommodate our customers."

The president of the Lubbock Lions Club said her group's event this Saturday will grill 50,000 or more cakes.

"We plan to do so many pancakes, that they can't even touch our record," she said.

Solberg said the record may end up in Texas, but he says they shouldn't get too attached to it.

"We definitely blew it this year, but they better not plan that we're going to blow it two years in a row," he said. "If they do break it, we're confident the Guinness World Record plaque will be back in Fargo."

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