Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Local News

September 13, 2011

Reminiscing about the pancakes and the tent

CENTERVILLE — Inside the pancake tent is its own unique atmosphere. The organ music playing, the emcee welcoming everyone to Pancake Day, the smell of the golden brown pancakes, the maple syrup pouring and the familiar hometown chatter that combines to make that special Pancake Day feeling. There are pancake flippers from every corner of Appanoose County, some that have flipped for 20 years and some that are doing it for the first time.

In 1949, Centerville had a distinct advantage in hosting an event where the main attraction was free pancakes — a company that made pancake flour was located right here in town. The Pillsbury Company was happy to be involved with Pancake Day and their donation of pancake flour was the cornerstone of the event.

The other companies who were excited to jump on board were the Tones company, who provided the coffee and syrup was provided by Penick-Ford. Several different creameries and dairies provided the butter, milk and cream over the first few years of Pancake Day.

Eventually, the Pillsbury Company was no longer one of Centerville’s industries, and Tones Coffee was no longer available. Over the years, the Pancake Day Committee has had to purchase the ingredients, or at least part of the ingredients to continue to provide the same claim of free pancakes to all of the visitors to Pancake Day. When all of the food was donated from the manufacturing sources, pancakes and coffee could be served until evening, but once the burden was put onto the Pancake Day Committee, the hours were scaled back to serve only until 1 p.m. This also alleviated the problem of recruiting enough volunteers to run the tent all day. Also, gourmet pancakes were added to the menu for a nominal charge.

Today, HyVee provides all of the pancake flour, syrup and margarine for Pancake Day. The milk is purchased by the committee and sold to the consumers at a low cost.

The pancakes have been served from many different places over the years. Originally, they were served at the old Armory, which was, at that time, located on East Jackson Street. Once the celebration moved to the Square, they were served from the band shell at one time, and then a tent was used. It has been set up on the east side of the Square and the west side and in 1952, there were tents on both the east and west sides at the same time.

In 1958, Wally Higbee of Centerville Tent and Awning constructed the large pancake tent that was used for nearly 50 years. It required 10-15 people to set it up and for many years, the P.E. classes from the high school were used to help erect it. The large tent was always set up on the northwest side of the Square, the only place large enough to accommodate a tent of that size.

The tent was sold in 2007 for $2,100 which went toward the purchase of the replacement. In 2008, with help from a grant from the Bemis Foundation a new set of tents was purchased. These tents are used for a multitude of smaller local festivals, as well as combined together to make the new Pancake Day tent.

Text Only
Local News
  • Annual student art exhibition at the Indian Hills Community college OTTUMWA -- It's been a busy year in the art department at Indian Hills Community College and the students are ready to show off their work. The Annual Indian Hills Student Art Exhibition will open on Monday, April 28 at 7 p.m. with a public reception

    April 24, 2014

  • 042414 Cline Photo Morgan E. Cline Noted philanthropist, entrepreneur, advertising executive and real estate preservationist Morgan E. Cline, 81, of Middletown Township, N.J. passed away unexpectedly on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014, at his home. He was surrounded by the love and comf

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple nibbles, but no bite The Appanoose County Board of Supervisor's Chairman Dean Kaster Tuesday afternoon said the board wants to make an appointment to fill the county attorney office vacancy within the 40 day state-mandated timeframe. State code allows a board of supervis

    April 24, 2014

  • A.C. history by Enfys McMurry April 24, 1942: In World War II, Charles DePuy at the Iowegian began a new column, called "Columns Write." "It will be dedicated," he wrote on April 24 (the first day), "to the men at the front ... a sort of central exchange for news from the home fo

    April 24, 2014

  • Earth Day activities at Morgan E. Cline City Park Kids will get to learn about guerrilla gardening with seed bombs and making recycled art during Earth Day activities at the Morgan E. Cline City Park in Centerville on Saturday, April 26 from 9 a.m. to noon. Appanoose Ecovision is sponsoring the free

    April 23, 2014

  • Drug take back set for Saturday, April 26 On April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Appanoose County sheriff and the Drug Enforcement Administration will give the public its eighth opportunity in three years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired

    April 23, 2014

  • A.C. history by Enfys McMurry April 23, 1922: Seven days after its installation, WDAX joined with The Centerville Journal for a broadcast concert featuring all-local artists. More than 1,000 people packed 12th Street from Maple to the Square. They watched Jack Porter operating h

    April 23, 2014

  • 042314 CCC Meeting Photo 2 Council moves to vacate land The Centerville City Council at City Hall Monday voted to move forward with the process to vacate a tree-filled ravine located between North Fifth Street and West Maple Street, or Highway 2 that was originally platted to be a continuation of West Jac

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Blood drive seeks donors The next Centerville Community Blood Drive will be held Tuesday, May 6 from 12-6 p.m. at Grace Tabernacle Church, 914 N. Park St. in Centerville. Anyone interested in donating can schedule an appointment online at or by call

    April 23, 2014

  • Monthly immunization clinic is on Tuesday The regular monthly immunization clinic will be held Tuesday, April 29 from 1-4 p.m. by appointment only at the Appanoose County Public Health Office at 209 E. Jackson St. in Centerville. Childhood immunizations available include DTaP, Polio, MMR, Va

    April 23, 2014

  • Healthy Appanoose: Week 15 The 15th week of the Healthy Appanoose Challenges are printed below. The free program can be joined anytime throughout the year. Log in at the Centerville-Rathbun Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at to record challenges completed.

    April 22, 2014

  • Waterworks to proceed with project The Centerville Municipal Waterworks Board of Trustees during their March 27 meeting approved a resolution that orders bids, approves plans, specifications and form of contract for the 2013 water system improvements project associated with the street

    April 22, 2014

  • A.C. history by Enfys McMurry April 22, 1910: This was the day when the Interurban service between Centerville and Mystic began with a special dedication run. On board were the 165 bond subscribers in Centerville and Mystic who had made the Interurban possible. Among the group we

    April 22, 2014

  • Moravia mayor signs proclamation Moravia's mayor signed a proclamation at the Tuesday, April 8 City Council regular meeting declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Mayor Irene Brooks talked about the many ways sexual assaults can affect people everywhere. The council made

    April 22, 2014

  • Audit exposes deficiencies The Centerville Municipal Waterworks had double-digit increases in both receipts and disbursements for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013, according to an audit released recently by Des Moines-based CPA firm Faller, Kincheloe & Co. PLC. The aud

    April 22, 2014

Featured Ads

The Iowegian wants readers to think about building code compliance. One Centerville resident at Monday's City Council meeting proposed the city create two new positions in the police department to only deal with minimum housing and nuisance abatement issues. The city currently has George Johnson as the only employee assigned to enforce building code compliance issues. Does Centerville need more than just Johnson to enforce code compliance issues? So, the question of the week is, "Should Centerville hire additional help to assist George Johnson enforce building code compliance issues?"

A. Yes
B. No
C. Not sure
     View Results
Iowegian on Facebook