Every Friday night during Lent (excluding Good Friday), the community gathers at St. Mary’s Catholic Church for a fish fry fundraiser hosted by the Montrose Knights of Columbus Council #1188. The previous fish fry was on Feb. 28, and on March 6, the church was once again filled with volunteers preparing the food for a filled hall of guests.
Each event requires approximately 30 volunteers and serves an average of 300 guests, all of whom come from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life. The menu for the event ranges from French fries to deep fried Haddock fillets to homemade desserts. The fish fry has also added a baked cod using a “secret” spice recipe the parish obtained from a pastor in Wisconsin.
John Wanner, manager of the fish fry, said that between the charity donations and social atmosphere, there are two parts of the event.
“It’s a fundraiser, we give money out to charity, but the second part is the fellowship,” Wanner said. “Just all the people in the Montrose community, we have a wonderful community here.”
Wanner emphasized that the volunteers involved are who make the event possible. He highlighted Ralph Zmuda, an 82-year-old parishioner who makes 70 pounds of mac and cheese for each fry; as well as Carl Smith, Jeff Ackerman and Pearl Cooling, who all help put food on the table for the event, and Robin Ackerman and Patti Kubin for decoration donations.
“The volunteers, they’re the ones that really make it happen,” Wanner said. “It takes a lot of work to put this on.”
Proceeds from the event benefit multiple causes, including the Pope John Pail II Academy, Life Choices Family Resource Center, Dolphin House, Montrose Medical Mission, Warriors Resource Center and other causes in the community. Leftovers from each event are also donated to the Warriors Resource Center.
New this year is a 50/50 raffle, in which proceeds support various parish organizations and the winner of the raffle receives 50 percent of the proceeds.
The rest of the Fish Fry events will take place March 13, 20, 27 and April 3 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. They take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and entrance is $12 for adults, $5 for ages six to 12, and children under six enter free.