It’s been going strong for 44 years, but the St. Vincent De Paul Catholic parish Lenten fish fry keeps going strong.

The fish fry happens three times a year; this year, it’s been March 6 and 13, and will be held for the last time March 27, from 5-8 p.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School on Wallen and Auburn roads in Fort Wayne.

The Lenten fish frys, which are run by the local St. Vincent Venturer Scouts, benefits the scouts and provides funds for their various trips. Thanks to the event, scouts have gone zip-lining and hiking for a week in the mountains.

Venturer Scouts include boy and girl scouts between the ages of 14-21. While it benefits the scouts, the fish fry simultaneously teaches scouts other valuable skills and has become a community favorite.

For parish members, attending the all-you can-eat event gives people time to catch up and even spend family time together.

The meal includes fried fish, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, a baked potato, a roll and a drink.

According to Pam Leach, event organizer and Venture Scouts troop leader for four years, the event has gained so much popularity that people develop a craving for it. In fact, it’s not uncommon to sell hundreds of meals each Friday.

Leach estimates they sold more than 860 meals this past week.

“Nothing says Lent like a gluttonous fish fry. Our entire operation, we do everything, make our own fish, bread it, homemade mac and cheese, make the cakes, etc …,” Leach said.

Almost everything is homemade with the exception of the breading.

The cost of tickets is $10 at the door and $9 if purchased ahead through a Venture Scout.

People plan on attending in advance. According to Leach, senior citizens line up at 4:30 p.m., while doors open at 5 p.m.

“They have their family come. It’s a big deal. People ask for 10-12 tickets at a time, even if they can’t all sit at one table together,” Leach said.

Preparing for the event takes hours. The scouts and volunteers involve all ages of scouts, giving the younger ones jobs such as rolling napkins and thawing out the fish. Older scouts help by supervising and preparing the sides, serving customers and bussing tables.

“It teaches kids business experience, lots of responsibility. It’s hundreds of hours, the planning, the ordering,” Leach said.

It’s dedication on the part of the adults, Leach said. She describes the event as a “great community experience and a force to be reckoned with.”

Crew leader Dick Wolfe helps at the event. He’s been involved with the scout troop since the early 1960s. It’s been years and he still enjoys the event today. That’s part of the attraction, he said.

According to Leach, people interested in buying tickets in advance can contact the church, and the church can get people into contact with the troop. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-11.

Parking at the event is free and people can also buy carryout meals through the drive-through on the other side of the building.

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