PARKERSBURG - During its second week, the Lenten fish fry at the Knights of Columbus in downtown Parkersburg drew a full house of about 475 people as nearly every table was filled at 6 p.m. Friday, when platters of fish and shrimp began flowing from the kitchen.
The Knights of Columbus event has been a long-time tradition in Parkersburg, drawing new people and repeat visitors every week. Last Friday's opening dinner attracted about 332 people.
Parkersburg residents Gary and Debbie Moss were making their first visit to the fish fry at 1010 Market St.
From left, Kathy Morehead, Cindy Gissy and Tom Heller load plates while Sharon Sheridan, far right, waits for fries to finish cooking Friday at the Knights of Columbus’ Lenten fish fry. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Carol Rader takes an order from Jerry Westfall and Dawn Chapman Friday at the Knights of Columbus during its Lenten fish fry. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Marty Vierheller delivers a dinner at the Knights of Columbus Friday during its annual Lenten fish fry. Approximately 475 fish dinners were served during the evening. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
"We've heard good reports about it; it's excellent food and good fellowship," Gary Moss said Friday.
For Tom Jamison of Parkersburg the Knights event has been a tradition for him going back over 20 years.
"It's good fish and good shrimp," Jamison said of the event. "I used to coach at Catholic so I came here and I still try to come here every Friday during the time they have it."
A combination of people, friends and food are the things which bring him back each year, Jamison said.
"It's just good to see everybody," he said, looking at the fully occupied event hall. "It gets better as it goes on."
Ed and Clara Alesius of Parkersburg are also longtime visitors to the Knights event, always sitting at "the same table, the same place," Clara Alesius said.
"I love it, I love the people. I'm 100 percent for the Knights of Columbus," Clara said, adding she also plays bingo each week at the hall.
The Knights of Columbus fish fry will continue each Friday at 6 p.m. through April 11, with proceeds going toward funding scholarships for local students. Both fish and shrimp will be available and to-go orders may be placed by calling 304-428-0331.
In Marietta, to mark the start of Lent this week, St. Mary Catholic School's Parish Center was filled with the sounds of sizzling fish and French fries and camaraderie Friday as volunteers served up about 900 pounds of fish for the school's first fish fry of the year.
Volunteer Dennis Riley managed the fryer and has been active in the fish fry for many years.
"(My favorite part is) just being with everybody," he said. "Sometimes you see people you haven't seen in a long time, since last year."
Cathy Rauch, fish fry coordinator, said she's been participating for 13 years.
"We've kind of got it to a smooth running machine at this point," she said.
All proceeds from the $8.50 dinner go directly to the school, and the meal is all-you-can-eat. The school will be the site of fish fries every Friday through April 11. Seniors can expect to pay about $8, while a child's admission is $4.50.
Some Williamstown residents also went to the Marietta fish fry.
Patsy Johnson, 63, of Williamstown said there is more to it than just good food.
"The purpose is good," she said. "And (so is) the socialization and the fellowship."
(Writer Amanda Nicholson contributed to this story.)