The Knights of Columbus’ annual Lenten Friday fish fries at Jesus Christ Prince of Peace Catholic Church have this year been serving both dine-in and carry-out dinners each week for the first time since before the onset of Covid.

“I know they brought in 400 pounds for tonight’s dinner,” Grand Knight David Frantz said during Friday’s event, “and we had some left over from a week ago that was still frozen.”

With David Meyer and Steve Kratz manning the fryers, Frantz added that they’re serving between 500 and 600 people per week so far, this being the third Friday of six, about the same number of people they served prior to the pandemic.

Working two-hour shifts at a time, about 20 Knights prepare and serve the meal while four Prince of Peace Catholic School senior students wait tables.

The menu includes either fried or baked fish, shrimp, or grilled cheese, the choice of either a baked potato or french fries, plus coleslaw, applesauce, and a beverage. The Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary additionally offers baked goods sold separately for dessert.

In 2020, the dinners were canceled completely due to the pandemic.

In 2021, the Knights offered carry-out meals only.

Last year, they began by offering carryout only, then opened it up for dine-in meals.

This is the first year everything has been back to normal.

The Lenten fish fries are one of the biggest fundraisers for the Knights of Columbus.

A national charitable organization for men of Catholic faith, the Knights of Columbus was established in 1882. The Clinton council chartered in October 1902.

The Clinton Knights decided to host the first fish fry on every Friday during Lent in 1999 at St. Boniface Church and made a profit of $3,800 from serving over 150 dinners after four Fridays. Subsequent Lenten seasons brought 350 to 400 people to the Hall, which presumably only had a capacity of approximately 200 people.

The event is now at Jesus Christ Prince of Peace Catholic Church at 1105 LaMetta Wynn Drive.

With Terry Geertz as head of the event for the past several years, this and other fundraisers that the Knights have organized, including corn boils, pie sales, and free-throw contests with the potential to lead to those on national levels, allow the organization to contribute donations to various other local organizations, like the Sawmill Museum, the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, and programs for people with physical or mental disabilities.

“You’ve probably seen us handing out Tootsie Rolls,” Frantz says. Any money made from those, typically during the fall, is donated to people with special needs.

The Knights of Columbus also offer scholarships. This year, they’ve voted to offer one $1,000 scholarship for a Prince of Peace Catholic School graduating senior and another $1,000 scholarship available to seniors of any other school within Clinton County to any school to where the student desires to attend, as long as either their father or grandfather is a member of the Knights.

The remaining dates of this year’s fish fries are March 17, 24, and 31, from 4 to 7 p.m.

“We feel it’s a great price for what you get,” Frantz says.

Adults can eat for the price of $11, unless they choose the seven-piece shrimp meal, which goes for a dollar more.

Children ages 4 through 12 can eat for $5, and children 3 and younger eat free.

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