Fish Fry Part of Church History

Fish Fry Part of Church History

The News-Examiner, Gallatin, Sumner County, TN Special Edition: Celebrating Sumner County's Bicentennial and Tennessee Homecoming '86, "Religion" section, p. 7-C.Saturday, March 29, 1986. By Louise Patterson, Staff Writer.

Thanks to The News-Examiner for permission to reprint this article!

Note: All spelling, punctuation, and omissions are as they appeared in the article in the newspaper.

Smoke signals have risen from the rear yard of Bethpage Methodist Church on the first Saturday afternoon in August since 1951. The fires burn under the big black kettles in preparation for the annual Fish Fry.

With great precision the fish-frying ritual began. Each piece of fish was carefully coated in cornmeal and dropped into bubbling oil. The kettles sizzled and sent out that special aroma that announces the fish fry is going full blast.

Preparation began early on Saturday morning with the thawing of the fish; making huge bowls of slaw; slicing tomatoes and mixing the batter for the hush puppies.

Family groups, political cronies, and former residents congregated at the long picnic tables.

As the fires died down under the kettles and the great platters of fish began to diminish, a few late comers go down the serving line. With plates piled high they join familiar groups. "Table hopping" becomes the order of the evening.

Each year a new generation of toddlers explore the wonderful expanse of a country churchyard under the watchful eye of proud parents and grandparents (and often great-grandparents). The scene is reminiscent of a past era of Americana.

The village church was once again the heart of the community where neighbor meets neighbor and a joint effort brings about the fruition of not only a pleasant evening but also meets the financial need of some specific local project.

Both city and county officials are always present to mingle with their constituents and to discuss various and sundry subjects.

According to a member of the first planning committee, "Thirty-five years ago a group of local men went down to the Cumberland River near Gallatin and bought a few pounds of fish.

"The purpose of the first fish fray in 1951 was not only to enjoy eating fresh fish; but it was also a time of fun and fellowship for the people of the church and community."

As the project grew from this small beginning to the hundreds who now attend; many families have given of their time and effort through the years.

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