Fish fry serves the multitudes

By Connie Sieferman

The serving line is always busy as hungry diners line up for their share of the bountiful menu. (Submitted photo)

Thinking of 4,000 people served a meal based on a fish and bread menu might remind people of
the well-known biblical account of Jesus feeding the multitudes. Closer to home, a modern-day
Plainfield church is also responsible for a bread and fish ministry and marking its 75th
anniversary.

The Plainfield United Methodist Church Fish Fry, which dates back to 1945, is the longest
running project for the church. The first was staged on the corner of Main and Center streets.
America was emerging from World War II, and Plainfield residents were looking for
opportunities to celebrate.

The local Saddle Club held a rodeo and needed food, and the PUMC young marrieds Sunday
school class took on the responsibility. Church members Frank Davis and Tom Hilligoss were
teenagers at the time.

“Food was simple but tasty, prepared in homes,” Davis said. “Dishes were used and washed by
hand. Those early fish sandwiches sold for 15 cents each.”

Hilligoss remembers borrowing chairs from the American Legion to seat diners. “Folks donated
extra war ration cards to buy supplies, and they shared produce from their victory gardens,” he
said. “We made it happen. The profit that first year was $250.”

Over the years, the location of the church and the fish fry have changed. Innovations added
include musical entertainment from the church’s youth and the praise team, Boy Scout troops
running children’s games and bounce houses. At this year’s event, nearly 1,600 pounds of
Alaskan pollock will be prepared over two days, with serving lines extending out into the street
for 4,000 visitors. They also provide drive-up service.

Not a fish fan? Choose pork sandwiches, grilled chicken, hot dogs and chicken tenders. French
fries, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and corn on the cob are among the sides. Homemade
pies and cakes prepared by PUMC members complete a feast for the multitudes.

“This event is a phenomenal opportunity for our people every year,” said associate pastor
Elizabeth Gilbert. “Our core values are creating community within our own church, but also
joyfully serving the local, regional and global community at large.”

Profits from past festivities fed the poor and homeless in Plainfield and Indianapolis, helped
impoverished areas around the United States and provided bicycles for community and church
leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It all happens because of one church’s commitment to serve bread and fish to their community.

Plainfield United Methodist Church Fish Fry
600 Simmons Street, Plainfield
Dining tent:
4-8 p.m. Aug. 2
11 a.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 3
Drive-through service
11 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 2

11 a.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 3
Contact Eric Shriner, eshriner@pumc.org (317) 839-2319.