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Photos by John McBryde

By JOHN McBRYDE

For the 43rd year now, the Bethlehem United Methodist Church Fish Fry has had no interruption from rain.

It may have been hot, steamy and even disagreeable Friday evening for the 45th Fish Fry hosted by the church in the Grassland community, but there was no change of plans due to stormy weather. That’s basically how it’s been for every Fish Fry but two since the first one was held in 1974.

“According to the Farmers’ Almanac, [the third Friday in July] is the day least likely to rain during the year,” explained Mike Loring, chairman of the Fish Fry. “That’s how they (the early organizers) came up with the date years ago. We can put up with just about anything but rain.”

A crowd of about 3,500 turned out for the annual Fish Fry that featured pond-raised catfish, coleslaw made from a secret church recipe, hushpuppies, sliced tomatoes and white beans, as well as ice cream from Pied Piper Creamery and an extensive lineup of baked goods.

Attendees also heard music from the 5 Points Swing Band and the Bethlehem Bluegrass, took part in a silent auction, and browsed and purchased from the book sale.

It takes about 300 volunteers to pull off the event, and one who has been helping for the last 20 years is Andy Hawkins.

“Everybody pitches in,” he said. “There are many hands doing a lot of work.”

On Saturday morning, many of the volunteers came and cleaned up the area, and by 10 a.m. “you wouldn’t even know anything happened here,” Loring said.

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