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Paul Bunyan Flapjack Festival returns to downtown Brainerd

The second annual Paul Bunyan Flapjack Festival presented by the Save the Historic Brainerd Water Tower Committee in partnership with the Brainerd Jaycees, Brainerd Community Action, Mills Automotive and the Brainerd American Legion will take place downtown Saturday, Sept. 24.

Brainerd Mayor Dave Badeaux flips a flapjack into the air on Sept. 26, 2021, during the inaugural Paul Bunyan Flapjack Festival outside on Front Street by the American Legion in Brainerd.
Brainerd Mayor Dave Badeaux flips a flapjack into the air on Sept. 26, 2021, during the inaugural Paul Bunyan Flapjack Festival outside on Front Street by the American Legion in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — For a flippin’ good time, look no further than the second annual Paul Bunyan Flapjack Festival in downtown Brainerd.

Last year’s inaugural festival included a Paul Bunyan costume contest, a flapjack relay and a pancake-eating contest outside the Brainerd American Legion and concluded a weeklong celebration of events commemorating the city’s sesquicentennial.

“I'm a big fan of not taking on too much — try and start small, figure out what works, see if the core idea is something that people are interested in — and, yeah, after last year's event, we were full steam ahead on this year,” Mayor Dave Badeaux said.

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The inaugural Paul Bunyan Flapjack Festival took place on Sept. 26, 2021, on Front Street by the American Legion in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

The second annual festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, but in a different location at 601 Front St. to accommodate a larger crowd based on last year’s success.

“We are going to be in the Mills parking lot, which is just underneath the water tower there right on Front Street,” Badeaux said. “We wanted to move it into that parking lot there to give ourselves a little bit more space.”

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The Save the Historic Brainerd Water Tower Committee in partnership with the Brainerd Jaycees, Brainerd Community Action, Mills Automotive and the Brainerd American Legion are responsible for the community event.

“It's been a great opportunity for the water tower group to just have the ability to say thank you to the community, and we hope that this becomes an annual event for us,” Badeaux said.

The historic water tower sits on the corner of Washington and Sixth streets in downtown Brainerd. The structure has become a city icon, welcoming passersby to Brainerd and representing the city on its official seal and celebrated its 100th birthday in December 2020.

The symbol of Brainerd is a perfect backdrop for an event that should have something for everyone, Badeaux said.

“Our goal, eventually, is to make it a much larger family event,” Badeaux said. “But one of our big focuses in the city of Brainerd is trying to find little things for families to do and so this is just kind of one more little step in creating something.”

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People gather for a group photo Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, during the Paul Bunyan Flapjack Festival in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

People are encouraged to dress up like the larger-than-life Paul Bunyan and enter the free costume contest at noon. Badeaux, a Brainerd native, helped emcee last year’s event and was also dressed up as a lumberjack.

“The big hit from last year was, of course, that flapjack relay. And this year, we hope to kind of keep that momentum moving on that,” Badeaux said. “It's free to participate in all the events. The pancake feed, itself, will be a $10 donation for adults and a $5 donation for kids.”

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The pancake feed will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the pancake-eating contest and the flapjack relay will take place at noon at the same time as the costume contest.

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Last year, teams of three competed in the flapjack relay to see who could carry, flip and pass a pancake the fastest in a race to the finish.

“We did not win the relay race. And I was disappointed about that,” Badeaux said of not winning a festival medallion. “I am a competitive man. And I like to win. So this year, we're coming after it. We're hoping to come away with the prize.”

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL .

Related Topics: BRAINERDTHINGS TO DO BRAINERDBRAINERD JAYCEESFUNDRAISERSAMERICAN LEGION
I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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