For years I've driven by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church at the corner of Dartmoor Drive and McHenry Avenue and noticed the "Fish Fry and Shrimp Buffet" sign in the front lawn.
The banner appears in the church's front lawn, 1023 S. McHenry Ave. in Crystal Lake, every Lenten season. The event is in its 10th year, said Denise Ramis, director of Youth Ministries for St. Elizabeth Ann.
For as many years, people have raved about the "wonderful and delicious all-you-can-eat buffet," and recommended I give it a try. I finally decided to stop by this past Friday night to see what it's all about.
What I found was bigger than I had ever imagined - a large community room on the church's main floor with literally hundreds of people chatting, relaxing and, of course, eating.
"We normally serve 600 to 700 dinners each Friday," Ramis said. "And we have another 75 to 100 people helping with the dinner during the week."
Preparations begin on Thursday, Ramis said, and the setup and cooking begins by Friday afternoon. Most of the teenagers assisting with the cooking, frying, serving and cleaning will participate in mission trips in the summer. The Fish Fry serves as a major fundraiser for the trips.
However, there are just as many adult volunteers - some making pizza, serving drinks and desserts, and a large group manning the multitude of fryers set under a tent in the back parking lot.
"This is a great community event," Ramis said.
The Fish Fry and Shrimp Buffet runs from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. during the six weeks of Lent. The church only has one more fry left - this Friday, March 22. There is no dinner held on Good Friday, Ramis said.
The buffet features fried walleye, cod and shrimp plus baked cod, cheese pizza, hush puppies, macaroni and cheese, salads, beignets and other desserts.
If You Go:
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church Fish Fry
1023 S. McHenry Ave., Crystal Lake
4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 22
Price: Adults $12.95, $10.95 for seniors 60 and older, $5.95 for children ages 7 to 12.