Shrove Tuesday has always been of religious significance to the townsfolk of Olney. It is the day before Lent, which is the start of the traditional fast. Traditionally, were to give up dairy products for Lent, meaning the products were put into a pancake mix. For the Olney women, it was also important to attend the Shriving service before the start of Lent, where they could confess their sins ahead of Ash Wednesday.
In 1445, the first pancake race is said to have taken place in Olney. The women of the town grabbed their apron and hat, running down the high street to the church door. Centuries later, today, the women of Olney are still picking up their frying pans to take part in the timed race.
Each year, travel from far and wide to witness the world-famous event. The race was even featured in a book 500 things to witness across the globe!
On 13th February, Olney Pancake Race will start near the pedestrian crossing at 11.55am with activities from 8am. Find out more here.
Did you know...
The women of Olney don't just compete against one another each year, they also compete against the women of Liberal in Kansas, USA! In 1950, R.J. Leete, the President of Liberal contacted the Rev. Ronald Collin, Vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Olney, challenging them. So far, the women of Liberal have beat the women of Olney 36-26.