Hundreds of people and the aroma of fried fish filled the St. Mary Catholic School Parish Center during an all-you-can-eat Lenten Fish Fry Friday evening.
It's an event popular this time of year, with many groups and organizations holding fish fries to raise much needed funds.
St. Mary's fish fry is held six Fridays during Lent and usually draws about 600 people each time, with an additional 200 meals prepared for take out, according to organizer Cathy Rauch, of Lowell.
ASHLEY RITTENHOUSE The Marietta Times
Volunteers soak fish in batter inside the St. Mary Catholic School Parish Center in Marietta during an All-You-Can-Eat Lenten Fish Fry Friday evening. Many organizations hold fish fries during lent to raise money.
Rauch and her husband David, who have three daughters enrolled in the school, have been organizing the fish fries for about 12 years.
"I grew up in Marietta and went to St. Mary School myself and used to teach here, so I have a real interest in it," said Cathy Rauch.
Rauch added that the event existed years before she and her husband got involved, but in the last 10 years, it has become something that draws folks from all over the Mid-Ohio Valley and beyond.
If you go:
Little Muskingum Volunteer Fire Department fish fry; 4 p.m. Saturday; 15015 State Route 26; $7.
Sons of American Legion Spring Bash fish fry; 5 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday; Post 159, 201 Central Ave., Williamstown; Radio 1 band performing from 9 to 11 p.m.; drawings; dinner only $6 person; dinner/band $10/$15, band only $5/$8.
All-you-can-eat fish fry; 5 p.m. Friday, April 6, April 13 and April 27; V.F.W. Post 5108, 319 Pike St., Marietta; $8.
All-you-can-eat St. Mary School Lenten fish fry; 5 to 7 p.m., Friday; St. Marys Catholic School Parish Center, Third Street, Marietta; fish (fried and baked) dinners, $8 adult, $7.50 seniors, $4 child; A la carte items available; call ahead ordering with curbside delivery, dinners $7.50 and $3.50 sandwiches; call between 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., 374-9156.
Churchtown resident Alice Lang, 86, said she has been attending the fish fries since the beginning.
"I like it because I know so many people and it's always good (food)," she said.
Ann Kerenyi, 42, said she likes that the proceeds from the fish fries go toward a good cause. She was there Friday evening with her husband, Mark, who was able to take a brief break from helping out with the event to enjoy some fish.
"It's a great fundraiser for the school," said Ann Kerenyi, of Marietta.
Rauch said it usually nets about $12,000 annually, with the money being used for things like supplies and repairs.
"Every parent is asked to come work at least one fish fry," Rauch said. "We typically have 40 people every night working."
She added that they go through 900 pounds of fish each week, with different teams of volunteers working each Monday, Thursday and Friday to unload the fish, sort it, cook it and set up for the event.
All-you-can-eat fish fries have also become a tradition for the V.F.W. Post 5108 on Pike Street in Marietta.
"During Lent we try to do them every Friday and after Lent every second and fourth Friday throughout the year," said the post's commander, Ray Offenberger. "It's a money maker for us. We need to somehow support our post and times are very hard."
For $8, a person can get fish, pork and beans, coleslaw and french fries and enjoy it in the building or take it home.
"We've had anywhere from 75 to 200 (people) - it depends," Offenberger said. "The beginning of Lent we have more and then people get fished out so it slacks off a little bit."
The Sons of American Legion Post 159 in Williamstown will hold its first ever fish fry Saturday and organizers are hopeful the 200 people they have prepared for will attend.
Post Commander Randy Williams said the group decided to hold the fish fry in place of a pancake breakfast it used to hold during the Celebration in the Park each year.
"Last year they didn't have the Celebration in the Park so we came up with the idea for the Spring Bash fish fry," he said.
Williams said the pancake breakfast netted between $1,000 and $1,400 for the group each year, and he's hopeful the end result of the fish fry will be just as good, if not better.
The money will be used for various veteran's programs, including those that help local veterans.
"I'm getting a lot of good feedback," Williams said. "I'm thinking it's going to be good."
Members of the Little Muskingum Volunteer Fire Department are also hoping for a good turnout for their first fish fry of the season, to be held Saturday at the fire station on Ohio 26.
President and assistant chief Marvin Mosser said the department has held six of them a year for the past several years, with proceeds going toward the department's operational expenses.
"It's what we use to fund our department. We have no tax levy - we're strictly donation," he said.
Mosser noted that between 100 and 200 people attend the department's fish fries.
"This is our first one for the year, so it usually does the best," he said.