Every Shrove Tuesday, the Olney Pancake Race sees local women dressed as traditional housewives run through the town, armed with a frying pan and pancake.
Date: 16 February 21 — 16 February 21 | Report this event.
Entrance Price free Per person
Every Shrove Tuesday, the Olney Pancake Race sees local women dressed as traditional housewives run through the town, armed with a frying pan and pancake. This famous custom first took place in 1445 and was revived in 1948 by the Vicar of Olney. It’s uncertain how the race at Olney originated but one story is that a harassed housewife, hearing the shriving bell, dashed off to church still clutching her frying pan containing a pancake.
In 1950 the race became an international event, after a challenge was received from the town of Liberal in Kansas (USA). Olney readily accepted the challenge and, in a spirit of international goodwill and friendship, the two towns now compete annually and prizes are exchanged.
The race in Olney is run from the Market Place to a point midway down Church Lane, a distance of 415 yards. Warning bells are rung from the church steeple and the race is started using the large bronze ‘Pancake Bell’. Pancakes are tossed by the competitors at the start and the winner is required to toss her pancake again at the finish. She then receives a traditional kiss from the Verger.