Annual Mennonite Relief Sale brings in hundreds of visitors to raise thousands of dollars to help others around the world

Alice Mannette
The Hutchinson News

For decades, Hank Wiebe of Hillsboro has flipped pancakes during the annual Mennonite Relief Sale. He started out as a kid, helping his parents make Russian pancakes. Now, he is sharing the experience with his daughter Erin Hein and granddaughter Rylie Hein, 12.

"My grandpa started it, and we carry it on," Erin Hein said. "I make them at home at least once a month."

The family's Mennonite ancestors immigrated to Kansas from Russia. Like all the quilts, pies and antiques that are for sale during the event, all the proceeds from the crepelike pancakes go to the Mennonite Central Committee, a world-relief organization offering relief, development and peace programs in more than 50 countries. 

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Hank Wiebie makes Russian pancakes with his daughter Erin Hein and granddaughter Rylie Hein, 12, during the Mennonite Relief Sale at the Kansas Fairgrounds on July 2, 2021.

"It (the money raised) goes to a very good purpose," said Leah Bontrager of Pleasantview, who has volunteered at the sale for several years. 

Along with the kolaches and peppernuts, the quilts are one of the main attractions. On Friday night, dozens of people viewed the more than 275 hand-made quilts, carefully stitched by quilters throughout the sunflower state.

Carter Martens, 6, of Inman packs up a homemade blueberry peach pie for a customer during the Mennonite Relief Sale at the Kansas State Fairgrounds.

Julie Davis-Windler, who has come to the sale for decades, brought a friend from Salina to the event.

"I always like to bring people who have never been here before," Davis-Windler said.

Elijah Stagemeyer helps his grandmother Grace Adam paint Ukrainian eggs during the Mennonite Relief Sale in Hutchinson on July 2, 2021. All the proceeds go to help those in need around the world.

Mike Zulian and Marshall McKinzie drove in from Colorado. They examined the quilts on Friday night and plan to bid on at least one dozen in the morning.

"We like whole cloth, embroidered and pieced," Zulian said. "We collect quilts. My mom was a quilter."

Learn more about the sale:Kansas Mennonite annual Relief Sale is back at the fairgrounds

Dave and Peggy Brant examine a quilt that will go on auction during the Mennonite Relief Sale auction on Saturday morning.

Peggy Brant of Wichita bought quilting fabric for making her own quilts. After purchasing the fabric, she examined the quilts that will be auctioned off.

"This is my first time at the sale," Brant said. "I like seeing what they have and getting ideas."

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Both professional and amateur bakers from across the state brought in rhubarb, apple and apricot pies. Ashlyn Nightengale, who runs Country Oven Bakery in Marienthal, just outside of Scott City, brought in kolaches, zwieback rolls and strawberry pies.

"It all goes to such a good cause," said Tami Martens of Inman. She and her son Carter, 6, helped customers with pies. "So many people and congregations help with this (event)."

Shoppers buy items during the Mennonite Relief Sale at the Kansas Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.