Published at PO Box 96 124 W. St. Clair Romeo, MI 48065. Phone: (586)752-3524 Fax: (586)752-0548
Updated Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 3 PM EST
|Home||Sports||Community||What's Happening||Classifieds||News Summary|
Friday, 2 pm
Inserts Friday, Noon
Editorial Monday, Noon
Service Directory Display Monday, 2 pm
Service Directory Liners Monday, 3 pm
Classified Liners All Holiday Deadlines are One Full Workday Earlier
You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 02/27/13
Above, a board in the Romeo United Methodist Church depicts the fish fry's history over the past 50 years, including founders, past pastors and even recipes.
(Observer photo by Chris Gray)
RUMC celebrates Lent
with 50th annual fish fry
by CHRIS GRAYAs the centuries-old tradition of Lent continues, a local church is reaching its own milestone with its celebration of fasting with fried fish.
Observer Staff Writer
The Romeo United Methodist Church (RUMC) is holding its 50th Annual Lenten Fish Fry, with meals served every Friday before Good Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 280 N. Main Street.
Fish fries are common and popular events in the Midwest, especially for those of the Catholic or Methodist faiths during Lent when followers are to abstain from eating meat products on Fridays.
With Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), churches and restaurants are given five days to serve fish on otherwise meatless days.
Since its inception in 1963 with then-pastor Reverened Charles Dibley, the RUMC has used its fish fry as a way of raising funds to send youths to summer church camp.
The first event brought in $70 in proceeds, with the church using small gas friers fueled by propane tanks until the church bought electric friers, which it still uses to this day.
Nowadays, the effort calls for 125 volunteers a week serving around 700 to 800 guests every Friday. Many of the youths that benefit from the fundraiser are on hand to serve as wait staff and bussers.
Judy Engwall serves as the fish fry coordinator, and has done so since 2009. She said the events have been successful fundraisers over the years, saying the tradition is part of the success.
"I think because we've been doing it for so long that so many people look forward to it," Engwall said. "From what we've been told, people come from out of state to join us."
To serve so many meals, around 700 pounds of fresh cod are used on a weekly basis, which costs about $4,500. The cod is bought and delivered from the East Coast and sent to the church the Thursday before a fry.
The meal, which can be dine-in or carry-out, also provides side dishes like apple sauce, coleslaw from a family recipe, rolls and beverages. New additions to the menu include baked fish and french fries. Desserts are donated by volunteers.
Engwall said the annual event can occasionally be trying, but is worth it to raise funds and provide an opportunity for fellowship.
"Several pastors have come and gone, but our fish fries still remain a labor of love for all those involved," she said.
Donald Sell of Almont has worked the fish fry for 17 years, mostly assisting as a pre-frier. He admits it's hard work, but loves coming in to help every year.
"We all donate our time, it's just the fun of it, we have fun working here while we're doing it, and it's going for a good cause," he said.
Prices are $12 per adult, $11 for seniors and $6 for children 10 and under.
Fries in the area
Along with RUMC, other groups and churches provide fish fries for those practicing Lent or simply desiring a tasty meal.
The Washington Lions Club is holding its own fish fries from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 1, 8, 15 and 22 at the club's building, located at 25800 Van Dyke.
Larry Binfet, president of the Lions Club, said the event is one of the better fundraisers for the club. The Lions Club collects funds to assist the visually and hearing impaired as well as providing assistance to the local community.
"It's gotten to the point where we've done it for so many years in a row, even if it wasn't a good fundraiser, we would continue to do it because so many people look forward to it," he said.
Like the RUMC, the club offers fried or baked fish as well as a number of side dishes and dessert.
In Richmond, the St. Augustine Parish will host fish fries from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 1, 15 and 29. It serves both carry-out and dine-in meals and is located at 68035 S. Main Street.
The meals are the traditional dishes along with cheese pizza and fries for those that aren't fans of fish.