Big ideas can come from standing around a county fair.

I learned that in June during a week of exhilaration and exhaustion of watching kids' 4-H project work come to a close, with joy and sometimes a little heartbreak. It's not unlike the way some of you may feel the week of Christmas, which we have ahead of us as I write this column.

An idea hatched during our county fair came to fruition this past week for me.

During the fair, another 4-H mom said it would be fun to teach the kids how to make lefse this year at our Christmas party. I spent plenty of time sitting next to my daughters in the livestock barn that week thinking how we could teach 40 kids to make lefse at once. If you’re not of old Norwegian heritage, lefse is a potato-based soft flatbread, most similar to a tortilla, some may say.

This fall, the 4-H members in our local club decided on the lefse making project for their December meeting and Christmas party.

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Elizabeth Pinke, 14, rolls lefse on Dec. 12 at the Northwood Meadowlarks lefse making 4-H meeting and party. 4-H parent and helper Diana Tviet stands in the background watching a griddle and holding a lefse stick to lift and flip the lefse. Tviet brought copies of her lefse recipe to share with the 4-H club along with making 30 lefse patties ready for the 4-H members to roll and make.
Katie Pinke / Agweek
Elizabeth Pinke, 14, rolls lefse on Dec. 12 at the Northwood Meadowlarks lefse making 4-H meeting and party. 4-H parent and helper Diana Tviet stands in the background watching a griddle and holding a lefse stick to lift and flip the lefse. Tviet brought copies of her lefse recipe to share with the 4-H club along with making 30 lefse patties ready for the 4-H members to roll and make. Katie Pinke / Agweek
Across pockets of the Upper Midwest, many of us love to slather lefse with butter and sugar. We’ve grown up with generations making lefse. You can buy it at the grocery store, but nothing to me is better than homemade, fresh lefse, especially around Christmastime. I don’t suppose my ancestors ever thought of their food tradition being passed down and taught to 40 kids, 130 plus years after they made America their home.

Some families signed up to make their lefse recipe and bring patties, ready to roll. Others signed up to bring pastry boards, rolling pins, griddles, lefse sticks for turning, butter, sugar and more. I made a large roaster of homemade hot chocolate and others brought hot chocolate toppings so the kids would have something to go with their lefse.

The lefse-making party created a magical 4-H Christmas party. We spread kids out across a large community center with nine rolling and griddle stations, with plenty of handwashing and adult oversight and teaching. And just like generations of families have passed down lefse traditions, the next generation of kids learned to roll and make lefse.

Tips, tricks and family recipes were shared among groups. Adults who never had rolled or fried lefse themselves learned alongside the kids. After rounds of lefse cooled, we spread butter and sprinkled sugar on the rounds to eat. Some kids added spoonfuls of sugar to enjoy the delicacy.

The lefse-making party, combined with a gift exchange, door prizes and games, created the most joyful Sunday afternoon I've shared with many in a long time. It involved so many, helping and working together, learning new skills and creating experiences and memories.

After rounds of lefse cooled, 4-H members spread butter and sprinkled sugar on the rounds. Some kids added spoonfuls of sugar to enjoy the delicacy. The idea of a lefse making party hacked at the county fair in June and came to fruition in December, says Katie Pinke. She encourages others to take an idea and make it a reality this week. No matter the exhaustion you may feel trying to check off the list ahead of the holidays, feel the exhilaration of the season.  Photo taken on Dec. 12, 2021 at the Northwood (North Dakota) Community Center.
Katie Pinke / Agweek
After rounds of lefse cooled, 4-H members spread butter and sprinkled sugar on the rounds. Some kids added spoonfuls of sugar to enjoy the delicacy. The idea of a lefse making party hacked at the county fair in June and came to fruition in December, says Katie Pinke. She encourages others to take an idea and make it a reality this week. No matter the exhaustion you may feel trying to check off the list ahead of the holidays, feel the exhilaration of the season. Photo taken on Dec. 12, 2021 at the Northwood (North Dakota) Community Center. Katie Pinke / Agweek
Each family took home a bag of lefse from the extra rounds we made. I ate a half piece of lefse while writing this column to treasure the memories a little longer.

This week, take an idea and make it a reality. No matter the exhaustion you may feel trying to check off the list ahead of the holidays, feel the exhilaration of the season.

Your idea probably won’t involve 40 kids or come from brainstorming at the county fair. Load up your car with family or a friend and go for a drive to look at Christmas lights. Stop at a local coffee shop for a peppermint mocha. Or dig out your grandma’s lefse recipe and give it a go. Find a new recipe to make and share it with loved ones. Experience in lefse making is not required and neither is Norwegian heritage.

To read more of Katie Pinke's The Pinke Post columns, click here.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at kpinke@agweek.com, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.