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Olney’s mayor pays Liberal a visit PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 10 February 2018 16:21

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ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times



Back in 1950, a relationship between Liberal and the small English town of Olney began for the annual Pancake Day festivities. Past Pancake Day festivities have included visitors between Liberal and Olney and this year, the Liberal community’s Pancake Day festivities will have a pair of special visitors with Olney Mayor Jeremy Rawlings and his daughter, Tamsin. 

The pair arrived in Liberal late Wednesday and has already had a full schedule of fun since arriving. 

“It’s been amazing,” Tamsin said. “Everyone in Liberal has been so friendly and welcoming, it’s been absolutely amazing. Then since we’ve landed we’ve been looked after so well and everyone has been so warm and friendly.”

“It started, I would say, when we landed in Denver and we rechecked our bags for the flight to Liberal and we must have spent 20 to 25 minutes chatting with the girl at the check-in and we were talking about the Pancake Day race and the things there are to do here in Liberal,” Jeremy added. “Then on the plane, 12 people got on and then nine got off when we stopped in Pueblo, Colorado, so it ended up being me, Tamsin and another bloke. We were chatting with everyone and having coffee, it was brilliant.”

The tradition of having visitors between the two communities has been a big part of the Pancake Day tradition. 

“In the past, we’ve had actual residents of Liberal come visit us and last year we had George and Connie Rosel, who currently live in Denver,” Jeremy said. “We’ve also had a cultural attaché from the U.S. embassy come, just all sorts of people, and then we’ve also had several people from Olney visit Liberal in response. I’m currently serving as mayor, this is my second year, and this year the committee asked me if I would like to go. So I said yeah and I asked Tamsin to come with me. When I first got involved with the Pancake Day race when I moved to Olney 28 years ago, we used to do the telephone call between the two towns because Liberal’s six hours behind Olney and the races are run at different times. It’s always been that friendly little rivalry and we’ve just been looking at the plaques outside the Pancake Day Hall of Fame here that’s got the times of each winner. Eventually I proposed us doing the video conference and that’s gone really well and I feel like I know quite a few people because I’ve talked to so many through meeting them on that video conference.”

“Yes, that Olney-Liberal connection relationship has been part of all of my life, a total of 69 years, which is just incredible,” Tamsin added. “It’s almost like Liberal is as much a part of the Pancake Day race in Olney as Olney is. So the opportunity to come somewhere that has been so much a part of my growing up in Olney, it’s amazing.”

Both Rawlings talked about how much Pancake Day has been part of their lives in Olney. 

“It’s just so well loved in terms of involvement. The whole of Olney turns out for the day, actually the whole of the U.K. turns out for Pancake Day,” Tamsin said. “When you’re in school you run in the race when you’re little, some of my friends have had parents who have won – just looking at the plaques outside, my best friend growing up, he mother’s name and her grandmother’s names are both on that path, which is incredible. It’s really part of the fabric of Olney and everyone in Olney is part of everything and proud to be so.”

“My favorite thing, because I like to take a lot of photos and was sort of the official photographer of the race, I got to talk to pretty much everyone – not just members of the public but also the crews who came, the celebrities who came, everyone who came,” Jeremy said. “I do greatly enjoy talking to people about those experiences so that’s the best thing for me. And the town council is involved with the race because they’re helping arrange everything to get the place ready, which is great.”

And the best part of Pancake Day?

“Obviously the best part of the day is eating pancakes, which is the most important thing,” Tamsin said with a laugh. “We just visited Meadowlark here and we were talking to the children about the differences between English pancakes and American pancakes and I think they were a little disturbed that our favorite pancake toppings are honey and lemon juice, because they like sugar and all the syrup on their pancakes.”

Both Rawlings also expressed excitement for this year’s Pancake Day festivities in Liberal and the rest of their visit, which will include visits to the Mid-America Air Museum and Dorothy’s House and the Coronado Museum. 

“Liberal is Pancake Day on steroids, it’s a bit crazy. It’s amazing what you’re doing – we’ve been landed for less than 24 hours and already we’ve met so many people who know not only about the Pancake Day race but also about Olney,” Tamsin said. “Olney is a tiny place in the U.K., less than half the size of Liberal and a speck on the British Isles, and to have people here know about us and our history, that’s amazing. We can’t wait to see all the activities you’ve got planned, being part of it all. Our Pancake Day in Olney is one day but you here in Liberal stretch it out to basically a whole weekend. We’re so honored to have been invited. ”

“We just went to the railroad building where the Chamber of Commerce is and there’s a huge tapestry in there and Olney’s role in the Pancake Day race is on there,” Jeremy said. “I’ve visited the U.S. many times since I used to work for an American company and I’ve been to all types of areas, but never anywhere as rural as Liberal, which is a great contrast. I’ve been to Chicago, I’ve been to Los Angeles, San Francisco, this is interesting, rural America is amazing.”


 

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