The United Methodist Men of New Mount Olive hosted a Fish Fry on Saturday in sun and friendship at New Mount Olive United Methodist Church (309 Russell Ave.) in Radford.
Beside the tall brick church, with the ladies making coleslaw and fixing plates in the kitchen, the men stood outside together talking and joshing and frying fish.
This tradition began 17 years ago as a fund-raiser.
“It was another way to create income for the building fund. We started off with a zero balance and needed to set the finances in order,” Wooster Pack said.
Nearly two decades, but the recipe’s stayed the same: the white fish fillets are dredged in a light breading, dunked in the fryer for 7-8 minutes. All the United Methodist Men there that day – William Wolford, Wooster Pack, Gilbert Meadows, Bill Wade, Odell Palmer, Melvin Bond, James Webb and his dad, Joe Webb, helped prepare plates, made to hot, sizzling order as people arrive.
“It’s a secret recipe,” Gilbert Meadows said, “a little of this, a little of that. And a whole lot of love.”
Asked if the events are successful, they laughed.
“All of them have been successful. We’re doing God’s work. You can’t fail,” Mr. Pack said.
Two pieces of golden fish, coleslaw, baked beans and a dessert chosen from among the cakes, brownies and cookies were on offer.
And the Fish Fry delivers.
“We deliver. It’s important to the older generation who can’t get out. We’ve delivered to 30 or 35 people today,” he said.
Good cooking and fundraising is a tradition for these men. Pack launched the fund-raising golf tournament held in the summer for the Dana Palmer Scholarship that goes to an outstanding Radford High School student.
Here at the church, the parking lot is full with people coming from all over, kids running by.
Amanda Payne of Radford arrives getting “a big box of fish.”
“Yes! I always buy fish,” she counts the years by the age of her son. “Since my little boy was born….so…nine and a half years. It’s really good!”
She says Odell Palmer got her started.
People are lined up talking in the grass as the men bread and fry the fish.
“It’s the best fish I’ve had in a long time,” Peggy Huber of Radford said. “It’s a great price. We’re going to have it for dinner.”