Calling all fish lovers

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
(Sentinel Photos by Beverly Van Buskirk) Aaron Youngers and Paul Freking prepare fried pollock for the Knights of Columbus weekly Fish Fry in honor of Lent. On average 150 people attend the dinner weekly.

LE MARS — A decision by the Le Mars Knights of Columbus to break a 20 year tradition and offer their Fish Frys on six Fridays during Lent, has been met with overwhelming support.

After 20 years of only holding a Fish Fry on Ash Wednesday, the Le Mars Knights of Columbus decided to capitalize on an opportunity last year.

“The Eagles always had a Fish Fry and they quit doing it last year when they rented their building to the City of Le Mars for the library,” said Justin Freking, Le Mars Knights of Columbus Grand Knight. “We made the decision to go ahead and pick up the Fridays. It was such a success last year, we decided to continue doing it this year.”

This year, the Knights served 290 plates on Ash Wednesday and have been averaging 150 plates on Fridays.

“It’s been a hit. People keep coming back each week,” Freking said of the Friday night dinners.

The meal, which features fried Alaskan pollock, a potato of either cheesy potatoes, french fries or broasted potatoes, mac ‘n cheese, homemade salads provided by the Catholic Daughters of America, a tea roll, dessert, and choice of lemonade, coffee or milk, is prepped by Knights beginning at noon each Friday.

“Before we went to a prebreded fish this year, it used to be an all day prep,” said Dave Hill, Le Mars Knights of Columbus Chancellor. “I would be there for 25 hours a week thawing, draining and breding the fish.”

On a typical Friday night, the Knights have been serving 700-800 pieces of fish, with 1,100 pieces served on Ash Wednesday.

“This is a lot of work for our guys to take on. We have 20 guys every single Friday with eight in the kitchen and 12 out front,” Freking said.

For the Knights, they pride themselves on the quality of each serving.

“We buy everything from a local restaurant supplier and everything we do is top quality and we don’t skimp any corners,” Hill said.

Freking agreed.

“That’s the nice thing about the enhancement to our fryers is with them now we can cook a bag of french fries and a bag of fish at the same time and within five minutes they can have it on the table,” he said.

This year’s decision to add homemade salads to the menu, is another nice touch to the Knights push for top notch food.

“The homemade salads is really going to be our push to the improvement in quality,” Freking said.

Last year’s Fish Frys netted around $2,000. It is the organization’s hope that this year’s dinners will bring in $6,000-7,000.

“Everything we make goes back into the community, either to Gehlen or the community in some shape or form,” Hill said.

Some of the projects supported by the Knights of Columbus are, youth camps, the Gehlen Catholic Ball, Le Mars’ Community Betterment Projects, the fire department, and scholarships open to Le Mars Community and Gehlen Catholic students.

The weekly Fish Fry is from 5-8 p.m. at 120 First Ave N.E. Cost of the meal is $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 7-10, and children 6 and under are free. A cash bar is also available.

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