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Fish fry catches big crowd

Event that has become community-wide attraction runs through March 22

Posted: February 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Volunteers from left, Paul Travers, Sondra Tersigni, and Diane Sorensen prepare fried fish and french fries for some of the hundreds of dinners served at the Lenten Fish Fry held at St. Clare's Catholic Church in Canyon Country on Friday evening.

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Dozens of eager fans of St. Clare’s Catholic Church annual Lenten Fish Fry lined up well before the doors of the parish hall opened at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

“I waited in line for 45 minutes,” said Jim Ferritto, one of the first guests through the door. “I only waited this long because the fish is so good.”

Organizers of the 35th annual Lenten Fish Fry, offered every Friday through Lent, expect this year to exceed the nearly 7,500 dinners served last year, said volunteer Sue Peak.

Last year the fish fry served up 5,000 pounds of Alaskan cod, said Chairman Paul Travers. Travers has been working the fish fry for 35 years — since it started at St. Clare’s in Canyon Country.

“We buy the entire production of one boat,” he said. “It’s prime fish.”

In addition to the 2-and-one-half-tons of fish, the fish fry uses a keg-and-a-half of beer each week, Travers said.

“The beer batter recipe is the same one we’ve used since the beginning,” he said.

Travers said the fish fry started at the suggestion of a gentleman from Wisconsin who helped plan the original fundraiser at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Newhall.

“It was a recipe he got from a his neighborhood tavern in Wisconsin,” Travers said. Travers said the fish fry also uses 1,200 pounds of flour and 2,800 eggs.

The coleslaw uses 1,600 pounds of cabbage, 300 pounds of carrots and 52 gallons of coleslaw dressing.

Diane Curry has volunteered for the event since 2002.

“It takes more than 200 volunteers to work this event every Friday,” she said.

Curry said the Lenten Fish Fry is the one time “you get to see people in the church that you normally only see in passing.”

But the fish fry is an attraction beyond the Canyon Country church. It has become a Santa Clarita Valley tradition, drawing residents from throughout the community each year.

Father Olin Mayfield said the event, which raised nearly $40,000 last year, benefits the Bridge to Home Emergency Winter Shelter, SCV Food Pantry, San Fernando Valley Counseling Center, SCV Pregnancy Center, Family Promise and individuals in need.

“All the money stays here in the Santa Clarita Valley,” he said.

Volunteer Ed Hoover, another 35-year fish fry volunteer, said the event brings friends and families together.

“People come from all over the Santa Clarita Valley and even the San Fernando Valley,” he said. “It’s a community thing.”

The St. Clare’s Lenten Fish Fries will run 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays through March 22. St. Clare’s Catholic Church is at 19606 Calla Way, Canyon Country. Dinner prices are $9.50 for the three-piece dinner and $8.50 for the two-piece dinner. Take-out is available. For more information visit www.st-clare.org or call 661-252-3353.

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